Hackerman is an eccentric persona, of that there is no question. The mullet, the moustache, the greasy leather jacket, the gold-rimmed glasses paired with his antiquated equipment—the CRT screen, the NES Power Glove—transport us directly to the eighties. Throw in the faded and distorted VHS aesthetic, the loud title graphics, and the synthesizer music and this clip becomes almost painfully retro. “Hacking” might not be the first reference to cross an audience’s mind. And yet, in this YouTube tutorial from a time before YouTube, Hackerman promises to teach us how to “hack time”—and all from the comfort of what seems like his family’s hobby room.
The entire monologue seems like the answer to a challenge: how many outdated technological terms can one misuse in the least amount of time? Nonetheless, the earnestness and monotony of Hackerman’s voice combine with the dropping of putative “hacker lingo” to convey a certain degree of authenticity—even when he puts a floppy disk on a partition board and instructs the viewer to “make sure it’s within range of the celluloid transmitter.” One can’t help but think of the technical mumbo-jumbo that is repeatedly perpetuated by “Hollywood Hackers.” Only here, it’s taken so far that it becomes a parody of itself—a first-class hacker depiction, even if there is no hoodie in sight.