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PALM LATITUDES

HACK ATTACK : Flaming Idol

August 08, 1993|Mark Ehrman

If you can't take the heat, get out of the virtual kitchen. That might be good advice for Billy Idol, whose recent release "Cyberpunk" failed to ingratiate him with the denizens of cyberspace.

The first pulses of data-borne grousing turned up in June, when members of a cyberpunk group on Internet, a global network of computer networks, wondered where Idol got the cheek to adopt the cyberpunk mantle.

As it turns out, the sneering one himself was tuning in. "I ain't no rock star. I'm an eager student," Idol modemed in his defense. Claiming that he never called himself a cyberpunk, Idol said he used the title because, "I was revved up by the DIY (do it yourself) energy of (author and cyberspace guru William) Gibson and the high-tech underground."

"I thought I would tell all these people who are hiding behind these computers to f--- off," Idol says. "I have just as much right to use cyberspace as anybody else."

But after his response, the flaming (cyberspeak for an argument) began in earnest. Hundreds of messages poured in. Some merely corrected Idol's grammar. Others derided his latest musical effort. During the monthlong flame-fest, there were a few bytes offered in Idol's defense.

But one Idol-basher justified the treatment in true cyberpunk style. "He makes lots of money producing meaningless noise," went the message. "We have to bash him. It's the great American pastime."

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