Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balloon Boy's Dad to be Charged

So I guess we all saw it on Thursday, or at least heard it afterwards; the experimental weather balloon goes flying away from the backyard of the Colorado Heene's, ostensibly with their six year old son Falcon in it ... the 24-hour news media, rather than covering the healthcare debates, or the discussion of sending troops to Afghanistan, or other such things, all rivets themselves to this story, along with the rest of us. And for once I have no problem with this; as a mother, it's a terrifying thing to watch, as the balloon careens down to the ground and it's ... empty. A frantic search and questioning ensues ... did he fall out? Was he ever in the balloon to begin with? The networks change their stories as they follow it in real time ... and me? I can only imagine what must be going through the poor kid's parents' minds.

Well now we know all too well what was going through Falcon Heene's parents' minds, particularly his father Richard; a storm chaser, thrillseeker, 'meteorologist' who never went on past his high school education. This family, who have previously appeared on the Godawful Wife Swap reality show, staged the entire ordeal. It didn't take long for the lid to be blown off the hoax, and it was all thanks to the young man around whom the story centred in the first place, as Falcon Heene informed Wolf Blitzer of CNN, standing in for Larry King that night, that he hadn't come out when he heard his parents calling him because they had told him they were doing it 'for the show'.

The Sherriff's office has now stated that Richard Heene and his wife will be charged with filing a false police report among other charges. Even my bleeding heart self only regrets that of the charges being filed, none are jailable, indictable offenses from what I could tell, but misdemeanors. No one's hands are clean in this story; obviously the Heene's are the most guilty of all, but the news media for being so credulous and giving this story so much airtime as well ... I understand the coverage to a degree, but bare minimum once it started coming out that this was hoax, when it's understood what this family wants is attention in the media, the coverage should have stopped. Period. Anything less would be giving them what they wanted.

And shame on our Hiltons/Kardashians/Survivor/Octomom 15 minutes of fame culture; if you earn it, a la So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol, that's one thing. But stupidity is a high price for all of us to pay for fame, and I'm hoping the increasing number of clearly stupid publicity stunts in the last few years - and the non-stop coverage paid them by the ever-increasing entertainment/pop culture media/blogs etc. - has maybe started to sour us on 'fame for its own sake' and the famous for being famous ethos. I mention this as a story because it has now come to a conclusion with charges to be filed; I did not mention it before because as I was about to the suggestion it was a hoax came about; I will not mention it from here as, as far as I'm concerned, whatever happens in the actual legal system the court of public opinion is now adjourned. Will I still talk about Jon & Kate or other such things from time to time? Yes you can barely avoid it. But I'm starting to think we might be better to ...

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