‘Balloon boy’ incident exemplifies shameless TV

The Colorado Balloon Incident is one of many stunts that have been pulled to get attention for a chance at reality stardom. The problem is people continue to look for fame instead of having strong values.

Photo By David Freyermuth
Ryan McCarthy

Opening up my e-mail one day, I had to delete three different updates from CNN about Falcon Henne from Fort Collins, Colo., who was apparently floating above Denver in a balloon that looked like a UFO.

The human element gripped the major news networks, and the entire country was wrapped up for hours in the search for the balloon and hoping that the little boy would be all right once officials could get it on the ground.

After an extensive search by the police, they found nothing in the balloon. In fact, the boy was hiding in the attic of his home. The whole thing was a hoax.
But wait, it gets better.

The parents of this child pulled this publicity stunt in the hopes of creating a bridge to a reality TV show contract. The parents of the child, Richard and Mayumi, are now facing federal felony charges and might have to pay back the city of Fort Collins for the costs of the search, according to CNN.com.

So who is to blame for wasting our time with this hoax?

Above all, it’s the media. They always latch on to reality TV stars when they are in trouble with the law. For example, when Anna Nicole Smith died and Paris Hilton went to prison the media followed them in planes, trains, and helicopters.

However, just as much blame goes to the parents. Richard and Mayumi Henne were looking to progress their reality TV careers, and because they were denied by TLC and other networks according the same report by CNN, they figured this would be the best way to give them a chance at stardom.

The Henne family’s fascination with reality TV started when they were featured on an episode of Wife Swap and, ever since, Richard Henne was looking for a chance at reality TV stardom.

Following the incident, several networks attempting to explain the events held live interviews with the family, and twice Falcon, their son ,vomited while the parents tried to dance around questions

I just don’t understand people who cannot accept that they will not be the next Jon and Kate Plus Eight. They think the quickest way to make a mountain of cash is not through hard work, but through three live-action cameras.

Reality TV has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry, and, apparently, just about anyone can get a show.

But why are we so attached to the reality TV?

As Americans, we have this voyeuristic obsession with the desperation and/or stupidity of others. But in reality, they just want attention. People will go to great lengths just to be noticed.

Reality TV has made normal people crazy, and it’s a sad day. Well, so what are we to do about it? Realize that there are more important things than following the lives of others? Focus on improving our lives and the world around us? Pick up a book?

Believe me, I’ve watched plenty of reality TV. My favorite is The Amazing Race on CBS. A dozen teams of two race around the world making stops at various countries to complete tasks to win $1 million. It’s great drama and appeals to me because it mixes competition with seeing the world. I think it is one of the milder reality shows in the sense that it’s not filled with the sex and profanity you’re likely to find on cable reality TV.

All I’m saying is that we should not be worrying about this. Most of the time, I write my columns on politics and social issues, but I think we should be spending their time doing something other than watching who is going to be the next reality TV star.