Max Headroom

Max Headroom (1985) is a short film made for TV that sets up the backstory to the spinoff series that would soon follow under the same name. Its a cyberpunk style of film that takes place in a dystopian/post apocalyptic world where all of the common people are poor, dumb, lazy, and filthy. Meanwhile the elites are rich and powerful and they control the masses through TV as they veg out and watch screens all day. The protagonist is a man named Edison Carter who is the top reporter for the top new station Network 23. In an effort to cut down on viewers switching channels during commercial breaks, which lowers their ratings, Network 23 has developed a new technology called "blipverts" which essentially delivers all of the advertisements in a flash due to what appears to be subliminal messaging. This proves to be great for ratings, but detrimental for viewers because it causes some of them to randomly explode. Edison Carter is investigating a story of one of these explosions when his boss tells him to drop the story "or else" and he ends up getting attacked by some goons on the scene. Carter knows something is up so he sneaks into the corporate headquarters of Network 23 and discovers footage of the blibvert explosions. As he is trying to escape the station with the evidence he steals a motorcycle and hits his head on a clearance sign labeled "Max Headroom 2.3m". Once in the custody of Network 23, a boy-genius named Bryce copies Carter's brain into a computer program so that they can keep their ratings up by preserving their top reporter. The program is glitchy and keeps repeating "max headroom" so Bryce orders some goons to get rid of the program and Carters body so they sell them both for their scraps.The Max Headroom program was discovered by a sketchy guy with his own broadcasting station called Big Time. Max headroom gains instant popularity and their ratings skyrocket, thus infuriating Network 23.  Carter wasn't really dead so he breaks back into the network, grabs a camera, and with the help of an attractive coworker named Theora Jones, they corner both Bryce and the CEO of Network 23 on camera and get them to admit the truth about the blip vert explosions on live TV. The end.

This movie was weird as hell. The acting was terrible, the graphics were poor, and the plot was cheesy, but I kind of liked it. Sometimes watching bad movies, like Sharknado, can be fun. What I liked most about the film was the theme of the elites controlling the masses through entertainment. Mr. Fry and I discussed this same idea after class once, referencing how the roman colosseum was build to distract and pacify the masses. Governments can get away with murder (often literally) and the people won't do anything about it because they're too busy with frivolous things to notice what is really going on.


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