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Max Headroom – The hijack mystery

Max Headroom was a computer generated TV host, who was first featured in the 1985 British cyberpunk television film, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future.

Well, we should actually write "computer generated", since you know the 80s… Given the state of CGI back then, it was really an actor in prosthetic make-up in front of a blue screen who portrayed the fictional host.

The character's unique appearance and quirky humor helped it to quickly gain prominence. In the years following its debut, it was featured in video games and advertisement campaigns, and seemed to be all over the place.

Max Headroom game ad

However, exactly 33 years ago, Max made the news in an unorthodox way. On November 22, 1987, two TV stations in Chicago had their broadcast signals hijacked by someone wearing a Max Headroom mask and making cultural references. The first hijacking went on for 25 seconds, before it was thwarted by an accomplished technician. Two hours later, the second attack occurred, this time lasting for almost two minutes.

While viewers were trying to digest the unexpected event, the highlight was yet to come. During the last few seconds of the video, the fake Max suddenly dropped his pants and was being spanked on his buttocks by what appeared to be a flyswatter.

Then it ended. Never to retun.

And to this day, we have no idea who did it.