Although it didn’t last very long, I became quite a fan of the Max Headroom TV series which debuted 30 years ago today (April 4, 1985). From its pre-Internet perspective, it turned out to be pretty prescient in terms of its view of the future. The Verge looks back on the show.
On Thursday, April 4th, 1985, a blast of dystopian satire hit the UK airwaves. Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future was a snarky take on media and corporate greed, told through the eyes of investigative journalist Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) and his computer-generated alter-ego: an artificial intelligence named Max Headroom.
Set in a near-future where global corporations control all media and citizens are hopelessly addicted to dozens of TV channels, the movie follows Carter — working for the mysterious Network 23 — as he discovers that network executives have created a form of subliminal advertising known as “blipverts” that can actually kill. While tracking the story, Carter is flung into a barrier marked “Max. Headroom — 2.3m.” Desperate to maintain ratings with its star reporter, the network enlists a young hacker to download Carter’s mind and create a virtual version of the journalist. But things don’t go quite right. The result: the stuttering, sarcastic Max.
20 Minutes into the Future kicked off an extensive franchise, and Max became a singular ’80s pop culture phenomenon that represented everything wonderful and horrible about the decade. Max hosted music video shows; Max interviewed celebrities; Max hawked New Coke; Max Headroom became US network television’s very first cyberpunk series. Max was inescapable — and then almost just as quickly as he had appeared, he was gone.
You can continue reading the story here.