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In The Works: Headroom Hacker

Man wearing a Max Headroom mask

Chris Knittel, producer of the acclaimed and controversial indie film Snow on the Bluff, is already preparing his next project, the documentary Headroom Hacker.

In 1987, two of the most egregious episodes of television signal hacking was committed by an unknown figure wearing a cheap Max Headroom mask. On Feb. 22, the hacker first interrupted WGN’s Nine O’Clock News sports newscast for only 25 seconds.

Then, later that same night, the hacker interrupted the 11:00 p.m. broadcast of Doctor Who on the local PBS station. This time, the interruption would last a full 90 seconds. During that time, the hacker would make numerous, barely understandable statements such as “That does it. He’s a freakin’ nerd;” “My brother is wearing the other one;” and more. But, the most shocking moment comes when the hacker drops his pants and gets smacked on his exposed buttocks by a woman swinging a flyswatter.

Although the FBI and FCC would investigate the two incidents, the unknown hacker would never be caught.

The new documentary Headroom Hacker will explore this bizarre case and attempt to figure out what the meaning of the signal hijacking might have been.

Below, you can see the actual, full second hijacking. Strangely, it has a very transgressive feel to it. And, for those who don’t know or remember, Max Headroom was a character created for a sci-fi TV series about vigilantes who would interrupt corporate-owned broadcast signals. Max was played by American character actor Matt Frewer, although the show was produced by British television.


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