Posted by: Jon Fine on April 09, 2009
My colleague and fellow blogger Burt Helm, who is substantially younger than me, looked up yesterday with a quizzical expression.
“Jon,” he asked, “could you explain Max Headroom to me?”
And I kind of fumfered around, trying to come up with a response: “Well, it was a cable TV show, after originating in England, uh, in the mid-Eighties …” And there it pretty much trailed off because, well, what was Max Headroom supposed to be? Funny? Satiric? Arch?
It never worked on any of those levels for me—I mean, it didn’t make much sense to me at the time and it makes even less now. I’m generally allergic to sci-fi futurism, but still: How did it happen that “Max” ended up on the cover of Newsweek and as a pitchman for Coke? (And, parodied, in this completely strange and terrifying [and slightly not-safe-for-work, near the end] airwarves-hijacking incident.)
If anyone can help explain any of this to me—what Max Headroom was supposed to signify and whether anyone in the US actually cared—I’d be grateful. An artifact of Max Headroom’s short-lived career as a Coke spokesman (New Coke, appropriately enough) is below.
The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.