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Showing posts from May, 2012

Shades of Gray: Morality in the Max Headroom Series

Having watched the entire series thanks to Shout Factory’s release of the complete series on DVD, I have noticed that there are some six distinct shade of morality present in the series.

Morally Bankrupt Ned Grossberg, the original chair of Network 23 is clearly the most morally bankrupt person in the series. He was ousted as the chair of the largest network in the world after he authorized the failed Blipvert campaign. The blipvert technology compressed an entire 30-second advertisement into a fraction of that time. The intended result was the prevention of channel switching, thus ensuring Network 23’s hold on the ratings lead, but what actually happened was that particularly sedentary viewers had a nasty habit of spontaneously combusting because they’re nerve endings were over stimulated by the blipverts. Grossberg refused to pull them, choosing to profit above people. 
He later resurfaces as the chairman of Network 66, a rival of Network 23.  Not long after joining Network 66 as an…

Pre-empted

For regular visitors to this site, the regularly-scheduled Max Headroom post for this week has been pre-empted. It will return next week. In the meantime, take a look at this excellent post from 18 months ago:   http://friday87central.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/maxheadroom/Note: where the author refers to the creator of Max Headroom as "George Strong" it should be "George Stone."

In Consequence

As a follow up to the previous post on Truth and Justice in the Max Headroom world, I wanted to reflect on the consequences for crimes and misdeeds as portrayed in the series.  One of the tropes in cyberpunk (of which Max Headroom is an example[1]), is the subversion of justice in favor of the wealthy.  I’ve already explored briefly the fact that justice is outside of the means of the have-nots dwelling in the Fringes and beyond[2].
But on the other side of the equation, it appears that the Haves in the world of Max Headroom don’t have a problem securing sufficient cash to avoid much of the consequences of their actions.  In the pilot episode, “Blipverts,” Ned Grossberg is the chairman of the number one television network, Network 23.  Edison Carter is the largest ratings producer though his investigative journalism program[3]. Edison stumbles upon a conspiracy to roll out a revolutionary advertising system that has the unfortunate side effect of causing sedentary viewers to spontane…

Truth, Justice and the MetroCity Way

There was once a disparaging comment about believing in something simply because “I saw it on TV.”  Max Headroom takes that tension and makes it a central theme.  Many episodes deal with what people see and how easily they can be duped and the cavalier attitude that people in power have toward the truth.

In a media and corporate-driven society, ratings are cash and cash is power.  If one has enough cash, one has enough power to shape truth to whatever form is most expedient to increase ratings and thereby increase revenue.
In this world, network executives realize that they are playing fast and loose with the truth, but that knowledge is of no concern. One board member of Network 23 accuses Network 66 of theft by “falsifying ratings,” to which Network 23 Chairman Ben Cheviot responds “Nonsense, its merely ethically dubious, perfectly normal practice.” [1]
The same episode focuses tightly on the role of media and its manipulation of the truth.  Theora Jones, controller for ace reporte…

Characters I'd Like To See Rebooted: KC Smith of the Ghost Corps

While the previous entries in this series were specific characters in their own right, I am featuring a character that I am not totally in love with mostly because I like the series he's featured in and would love to see the series rebooted.

The Ghost Corps is a group of 'free-lance diplomatic' operatives (translation: spies) at work in the Orient in the years between the World Wars. The radio series focused on an agent, KC Smith and his aide, Mohammed Ali, who were stationed in Egypt (the series places them variously in Cairo and Alexandria). Smith is identified as an American who had also served for a time in the French Foreign Legion and was a master of disguise and languages. Ali is a stalwart friend who possesses skills as varied as swordsmanship and ventriloquism. Together, they made a formidable team.

I could see Smith and Ali interacting very easily with the other characters mentioned in this series of posts. In fact, as I've mentioned before, one o…