Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Twenty minutes into the future...

Max Headroom was one of the few TV shows to successfully take cyberpunk onto the small screen. Sure, it was low budget, the graphics were cheesy, and it now looks distinctly dated, but the plots they came up with in their setting "twenty minutes into the future" were classic cyberpunk tales of technological and social dystopia, which also commented on the soulless media world of 1987. One of them which I particularly remember involved television networks paying terrorists to blow things up so they'd have something to report on - the media creating the story.

(Yes, I know. The epsiode was about an Evil Rival TV Network who went beyond paying terrorists to blow things up to create news, to paying them to fake blowing things up to create news. Media ethics were somewhat twisted twenty minutes into the future...)

What's disturbing is that it seems to almost be happening. Three men were today acquitted by a British jury of a plot to buy "red mercury" (a mythical material which seems not to really exist) supposedly for the purpose of building a "dirty bomb". The twist? The entire deal was set up as a fake news sting by News of the World "reporter" Mazher Mahmood, the "fake sheikh", who then tipped the police to it. He got his headlines, complete with front page story about how "dangerous terrorists" had been busted by his "newspaper" - and his dupes got to spend two years in jail awaiting trial. Breakthru-TV would be proud...


Was Jin alone, or did the otter have help?

Posted by Will de Cleene : 7/26/2006 10:01:00 AM

Heh. My first encounter with "red mercury" was back in the early 90s, editing Planet magazine. Some guy came to us with a lurid conspiracy story full of shadowy actors and smuggled stuff, and one of our writers used this crazy new thing called the Internet to determine that red mercury was in fact fictional. So this has been going on a long time. I'm astonished this got to court.


Posted by Russell Brown : 7/26/2006 10:11:00 AM

Seen this?

Looks like Mahmood might be heading to court on charges of perverting the course of justice quite soon.

Posted by Rich : 7/27/2006 10:45:00 AM