A satirist must often suffer the same slings and arrows in return. Max Headroom has been parodied, satirized and paid homage in a surprisingly broad variety of ways.
"Maxine Legroom" (January 1987)
When Max was interviewed for Playboy magazine, the editors accompanied the interview with a layout for a rather hot blonde (female, of course) equivalent named Maxine Legroom. It's an absurd self-parody of their usual Playmate pictorials, complete with a "biography" listing Maxine's interests. It ran under the subtitle, "Max, have we got a girl for you!"
The model was Playboy regular Sondra (Sandy) Greenberg, who also appeared in Playboy Video Magazine #12, doing four Max-like segments. I haven't seen those yet...
(There is also a series of workout videos under the "Maxine Legroom" name, but if there's a connection - to either Max or this Maxine - it's escaped me.)
MAD Magazine (March 1987-1990)
Max famously appeared on the cover of the March 1987 issue of MAD, albeit wearing his Alfred E. Neuman mask. An inside sidebar was the only related content, showing that the decision to go with Max was probably a late decision by The Usual Gang of Idiots.
MAD ran a few Max items over the next few years, probably stuff that was in hand, in prep or in press as Max started to fade from the scene. Most are fairly sharp, even unkind observations... but still funny.
(Ah, MAD, I miss you...)
Doonesbury & "Ron Headrest" (April 1987-1993)
Gary Trudeau was one of many comics artists to latch onto the Max meme, turning then-President Ronald Reagan into a digitized parody of himself, Ron Headrest. The gag outlived Max's run, as well as Reagan's. "Ron Headrest" makes 77 appearances through about 1993, which can be found in the UPS online archives.
Garry Trudeau is quoted as saying that this was one of his least popular characters... but damn if it isn't the most spot-on parody of them all. Trudeau clearly "got" what made Max interesting and a little scary, and found the ideal candidate to carry the joke...
(My thanks to Garry Trudeau and UPS for permitting me to include these sample strips.)
Sesame Street (1987-8)
Along with his brief appearance reciting the al-al-alphabet, Max made two appearances in the Muppet universe.
- "Muppet Babies: 'This Little Piggy Went to Hollywood'" (1987)
- Max was
- Sesame Street Magazine (1988)
- Max was portrayed as by 'Link Hogthrob' in the Spring 1988 issue of Sesame Street magazine.
It'sbefore anyone conceived of a Rule 34, much less an internet. Yes, it's Max-themed porn starring Porsche Lynn as both Allison Carter and Maxine Bedroom.
No, I'm not making this up.
Gawd help me, here's a synopsis:
- "Porsche Lynn stars as Maxine, an intrepid reporter for a busy metropolitan TV news show. She's hit upon the story of a lifetime when she meets a couple of couch potatoes who claim that by watching network television that were turned into a pair of feverishly frolicking sexual animals. Rather than just enjoy the situation, though, the couple feels the need to expose the networks nefarious scheme — to entice viewers into sex through subliminal manipulation. How causing sex among your viewers is supposed to boost ratings is a mystery, but Maxine lays bare the whole sordid story on her nightly broadcast. But now she's run afoul of the powerful network execs who created the whole plan! They plot to assassinate Maxine, but little do they suspect that her personality will be transplanted into the network's own central computer. She becomes more powerful than ever, beaming her sexy shenanigans into homes from coast to coast. A take-off on the one-time hit series 'Max Headroom,' this video uses flashly effects, gorgeous women and plenty of white-hot action to keep you intrigued from start to fiery finish. It's a cyber-sexual trip to the far side of sexual bliss — a trip you'll be happy to take again and again."
Back to the Future II (1989)
The second installment of the time-traveling movie franchise took Marty McFly to, uh... 2015, where among flying cars and other wonders he encountered several Max-like characters on the service screens of the old diner.
(I have to say that I am beyond embarrassed not to have realized, until it was pointed out to me, that in an additional layer of satire these t-talking heads were pitching The P-Word (Pepsi).
Excuse me, I'm going to go ride my hoverboard around to look for flying cars and self-lacing shoes...)
- "Sledge Hammer: 'A Clockwork Hammer'"
- This sitcom, a running parody of tough-guy cop shows, ran on ABC in the same years as Max's show. It used a punning title and parodic theme for each episode of its two-season run. One, almost inevitably, was based on the title character becoming Max-Max-Maxified.
- David Letterman
- Sometime after Max's famous interview, Letterman parodied Max using his standby court jester, Larry Bud Melman.
- "Carmen Sandiego"
- The animated series featured Carmen's boss, seen only as a talking-head on TV.
- T-Mobile Germany's "Robert T-Online" (2001)
- One of the more bizarre manifestations of Max-influence was this strange talking-head spokesbeing for T-Mobile Germany (a division of Deutsche Telekom), a very Max-like "Robert T-Online."
- Eminem: "Rap God" (2013)
- Eminem's 2013 single "Rap God" features an extended parody of Max with the singer in full costume and on a signature moving-lines background.
The 2007 commercials for Channel Four could also be called parodies... or at least self-satire.