Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know, the boys in the newsroom got a
Get the widow on the set!
We need dirty laundry-- Don Henley, 1983
The "Balloon Boy" story continues to dominate news cycles as Americans grow weary of the endless health care debate and ongoing, depressing discussions of troop levels in Afghanistan. And the eager "news" reporting organizations are all too happy to keep their shiny, new ball in the air -- so to speak.
I've never seen a more gleeful bunch of anchors or more excited sounding reporters than last Thursday as they covered the Big Shiny Thing in the air for over two hours! They were breathless with anxious anticipation . . . is the little boy really in there? Does he have enough oxygen? How is he dressed, how cold is it up there? Might he (gasp!) fall out?! Has he (gasp!) fallen out already? Experts in mechanical physics were consulted to calculate the amount of helium vs. the amount of thrust necessary to propel a craft carrying an approximately 50-pound-youngster several thousand feet in the air.
They toted out their special touch-sensitive TV screens (no longer relegated to election-night predictions), while excited weather reportersrepeatedly enlarged and repositioned the balloon's image.They drew lines projecting the trajectory with their fingers on the magic green screen. Wheeeeeeee . . . Neighbors of the balloon-building Heene family were interviewed about theunfoldingevent and its possible tragic ending. It was the best thing to happen to LIVE TV news since OJ took his white Bronco for a slo-mo police chase down the LA highways in 1994.
What more can you say about societal decline when this is deemed "high demand" news by the networks and the sheeple?
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden announced Sunday that he's seeking charges, including felonies, against Richard and Mayumi Heene. Alderden said the stunt two weeks in the planning was a marketing ploy by the Heenes, who met in acting school in Hollywood and have twice appeared on ABC's reality show "Wife Swap."
Alderden said documents show that a media outlet has agreed to pay money to the Heenes with regard to the balloon incident. Alderden didn't name the media outlet but said it was a show that blurs "the line between entertainment and news."
Excuse me, but . . . Duh! This is the Age of Reality TV, where your miserable little lifejust isn't important if your bratty kids and dysfunctional family aren't throwing a tantrum on "The Supernanny," or you're not digging for grubs with your fingers on some smelly island on "Survivor," or implanting your womb with scores of embryos hoping to break some all-time gestational record, or looking for a shot at a real chanceat love with some sleazy hip-hop star. What the hell do we expect? Of course the Heenes want to get on (another) reality TV show; how else can they Keep Up with the Kardashiansand prove their worth in American society?
Ironically, six-year-old boxed-up balloon boy Falcon Heene was both the star of the flighty fantasy and the cause of it's unraveling:
Falcon seemed to struggle under the media glare, vomiting during live interviews Friday morning with Diane Sawyer and Meredith Vieira. But the story line began to fray when, hours after the balloon escapade, Falcon said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that "we did this for a show" -- a remark subjected to wide and sometimes outraged interpretation.
"We did this for a show . . ." How refreshingly honest and brave. (Somethingwe would've loved to have heard from any member of the Bush Crime Family about nonexistent WMDs in Iraq. But I digress.) The child is obviously upset and justifiably so. It's a wonder his parents didn't actually duct tape him up and dangle him out of that thing. Or lock him in the trunk of a Buick, fill it with crack, drop it off in front of a strip club and wait for the producers of COPS to show up. I'd vomit, too, if these were my guardians. There's a reality TV show for them -- "EXXtreme Cases: The DFCS Files." Now that Falcon has deflated their dream with his frank admission, who knows what they have in store for him now.
So what to do about the Heenes? That is the provocative question. Inquiring minds demand answers, dammit, since coverage of theirfun has dominated the media for five days. But that is the point, isn't it? How long can the "news" outlets keep their shiny, new balloon in the air? Don't rush the investigation, no need to hurry things along. No one is anxious to hear Joe Biden yammer on about security in Kabul or listen to Sen. John Barrasso whine about the public option. Forget that crap , this is important.
"It's an utterly unique story," said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC's "Today" program whose co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed family members. "It had elements of a child in peril; there was a live picture of it; there was a mystery to it; there were details that continued to develop throughout the course of the day about this family," etc., etc. As the drama unfolded Thursday afternoon, the cable news networks logged ratings roughly double their usual averages, according to the Nielsen Co.
Just keep your eyes on the gently floating mylar, people . . . and forget . . . it's pretty . . . is there a boy in there? . . . will he tumble out and crash into the earth? . . . oooh, how shiny . . .