Max Headroom Incident – Soda Jerk


”Max Hedroom Incident’ refers to two illegal broadcasts that successfully hijacked Chicago television on Sunday Nov 22 1987. The first occurrence took place during WGN­TV’s live telecast of The Nine O’Clock News. The signal intrusion occurred at 11.15pm that night on channel WTTW during a broadcast of the Doctor Who episode ‘Horror of Fang Rock’. In both cases the pirate signal aired footage of a man dressed as Max Hedroom, a character from a science fiction TV series that critiqued the corporate domination of the medium of TV. Despite this, the character of Max was nevertheless leased as the face of a popular Coke advertise champaign an irony not lost on the pirate Max impersonator. In his garbled and wantonly incoherent monologue he makes fun of Coke, channel WGN, the Chicago Tribune, sportscaster Chuck Swirsky, sings snatches from the Temptations and the Clutch Cargo cartoon theme song. It cumulates in the spanking of his bare bottom by an assistant wielding a fly swat. Although the incident was investigated by the FBI the identity of those responsible remains unknown and it is considered to be one of the most significant cases of TV broadcast signal intrusions ever executed.

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