Derisive name for the apocryphal Hollywood user interface to computers, often found in whiz-bang, thank you ma'am movies such as Hackers. Virtual Reality gone horrifically, and often comically wrong.


Update: This idea, which originated deep in the bowels of CSH, is currently (as of 30 Jan 2001) being used as the basis of Illiad's (of User Friendly fame) MovieOS storyline... check it out, beginning here: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20010111

Text written without a cursor, without anything to do with the typing speed; Screens so bright the pixels burn their way through flesh; Gigabytes of information stored on a single floppy diskette. In short, mostly unrealistic but "intuitive" ways of pre-packaging technology for the average joe.

The flip side of MovieOS's sexy user interfaces is Hollywood's manipulative use of plain code to imply arcane secrets. The "code" can be anything really, as long as it is something the legendary Dumb Audience won't understand.

If the filmmakers intend to give the audience a sense of what is happening, they will of course use MovieOS's wonderful GUI. On the other hand, if they want to make the audience feel incredible admiration for a hacker, they will just show line after line of code. Whereupon the audience will hopefully gasp, "Gee whiz. That guy really knows his stuff. Look at all them funny numbers - and he can read 'em plain as English!"

My favourite use of this technique is in the title sequence of "Antitrust", which shows Ryan Philippe hard at work on some arcane black-hat programming, interlaced with the title graphics - which are nothing but a few hundred lines of HTML! That sequence alone is almost enough to make Antitrust an instant cult classic. Unfortunately the rest of the movie is not nearly campy enough to keep that status.

I'm rather surprised that nobody hit upon the OS that the original Terminator was running - it looks like a COBOL program, which was a more popular programming language back in the ancient days (read: 1980s). Add in a few silly graphs from an engineering textbook and you have an unusual-looking OS for a killer robot from the future.

MovieOS is really designed to impress the non-tech masses. On the flip side, it does allow technically savvy folks to get a good chuckle, such as when the US submarine shot an orange-banded torpedo at the Russian sub in The Hunt for Red October. FYI - orange indicates a non-explosive practice torpedo. Yellow bands indicate explosive warheads.

The best example of MovieOS has to be in Superman 3 - the one where this guy (Richard Pryor) is supposed to be a l33t hax0r. He is apparently able to make the computer do something it has never done before. Then we get to see the screen - and all the program does is lists itself, followed by about 20 PRINT statements. In BASIC code.

And don't even get me started on Hackers.

One of the many powerful features of MovieOS is its ability to enhance digital images as much as you want. Any fuzzy image from a surveillance camera or a .jpg will become crisp clear, with infinite zoom if you just push the "enhance"-button.

MovieOS also tends to make soft beeping noises whenever there's text printed on the screen, something moves, or a button is pushed.

However, it appears to lack the ability to disable that feature, since absolutely all computers running MovieOS makes beeping sounds.

Of course, the accompanying hardware matches the high-end technology of the MovieOS, like the webcam in "Along Came A Spider" with 1000x zoom, 360° rotation and automatic image-enhancement.

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