Max Headroom: Twenty Minutes into the Future (Case Study)

Authored by: Scott Rogers

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815351931
eBook ISBN: 9781351139885
Adobe ISBN:


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While best known for its time as a groundbreaking MTV interview show, Max Headroom’s origin—BBC Channel 4’s film Max Headroom Twenty Minutes into the Future—functions as a fascinating example of cyberpunk aesthetics. The film deploys traditional cyberpunk elements such as a bleak, industrial landscape; a tonal palate drawing heavily from film noir; and a world reliant on advanced technologies that seem cobbled together from leftover parts, all in the service of a larger argument about media consolidation and influence in the modern world. In the end, Max Headroom Twenty Minutes into the Future functions as a cyberpunk media critique by exploring various western anxieties about the union of the human and the technological, but the film’s primary thrust is media criticism, and this marks it as a fairly extraordinary example of cyberpunk aesthetics.

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