Thursday, August 14, 2014

Max Headroom: TV Pirate -Sitting Now

Originally published August 14, 2014 via infectiv.com

Guy Fawkes has become the face of electronic anarchism, but thirty years ago, before Anonymous and the Federal Sentencing Commission takedown, there was another discordian electro-icon: Max Headroom.

Max was the lead character of the cult-classic made-for-tv-movie, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into the Future (played by Matt Frewer); and would later appear as a British veejay, the star of his own spinoff show, and as the spokesman for New Coke. His digitized features (created with Hollywood makeup magic) and glitchy stutter were well-known and popular in the late 80′s. So popular that I can’t believe I’m having to explain who he is. Ah, the terrible burden of the elderly.

But on November 22, 1987, TV viewers were introduced to a different Max Headroom. During the Chicago Bears highlights segment of WGN-TV’s Nine O’Clock News, the normal feed was interrupted by the image of a man wearing a Max Headroom mask and sitting in front of a wildly bobbing sheet of corrugated metal while a loud buzz of feedback was heard.

After twenty-five seconds, the sports anchor returned, looking about as confused as anyone, saying, “Well, if you’re wondering what’s happened, so am I.”

What had happened was a broadcast pirate, using a microwave transmitter, overrode the station’s signal with his own

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