Friday, October 16, 2009

UPDATED POST: Falcon's Folly: We're All Along for This Ride

Now that he's been found safe and sound, the collective holier-than-thou public mentality can begin its finger-pointing at Falcon's family.

In case you've been living in a box, Falcon Heene is the 6-year old Colorado boy who unleashed a media frenzy this afternoon after he reportedly untethered the family's weather balloon (conveniently located in the backyard) and climbed aboard. For several tense hours, the world watched and Tweeted as Falcon's whereabouts remained unknown.

Thankfully, Falcon was found unharmed, hiding in a box in the attic, behaving like a typical 6 year old boy who realized he did Something That Dad Might Not Be Real Happy About.

A typical boy. In what appears to be a somewhat untypical family.

Admit it, you made the comments while watching the balloon and listening to the news coverage.

I certainly did.

"Who the hell has a hot air balloon in their backyard?"
"Why isn't that kid in school?"
"You know that family's gotta be nuts - who names their kid Falcon?!!"

and then later on in the afternoon, when we learned that a typical family activity for the Heenes is chasing storms and looking for E.T. ("Falllllllcoooooonnnnnn .... phoooooonnnnne hoooooommmmmme.")

We as a society love our dysfunctional families. The more elements of a train wreck, the better. We're obsessed with Jon and Kate and their Eight. For some reason, Levi Johnston is still making headlines. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were all a-Twitter about the Duggars having their 20th kid (give or take a few ... I've lost count) as expectant grandparents? And let's not forget everyone's favorite Octo-mom. Even The Simpsons (a cartoon family, for goodness sakes!) aren't exempt as we debate the merits of Marge appearing on the cover of Playboy.

We love to sit in judgment in our Barcoloungers and in front of our laptops. And God help them if a family with even the slightest bit of craziness puts themselves in the spotlight, as the Heenes have apparently done via their not one but two appearances on "Wife Swap," then we feel like they are especially fair game.

Is it because we know that we have more than one skeleton in our own familial closet that we love to glom onto others? Are we well aware that by pointing our fingers at the foibles and quirks of others that perhaps we might have escaped some scrutiny of our own?

Because really, isn't that what we were all doing? What kind of parent builds weathercraft in their backyard? That's weird that they're all into science so much. And what about the extraterrestrials and UFO thing? Everyone knows "those people" are wackos.

But are they really any more dysfunctional than people who sign their kids up for sporting events that involve practice several times a week and weekend games that involve travel into the next time zone? Or moms who have their daughters in dance and cheerleading before they're fully potty-trained? Or me, who allows her daughter to check out 186 books from the library, her son to write plays, the kids to watch more Jonas Brothers than is truly healthy?

Or is the problem not really us as parents, but more of a side effect of our 24/7 constantly-on media culture, a feed-the-beast byproduct? Just a few hours after millions watched him 'round the world, we're onto the next spectacle.

Yes, there are people who are really screwing up their kids and their lives. But I want to believe - I have to believe - that the majority of us are trying to do the best that we can, even if we feel like we're making it up as we go. All we know is what we know.

Now, onto the next show.

UPDATE: It's 12:22 a.m., and within seconds after I hit "Publish Post", I read Adam Ostrow's post on Mashable and watched this video below. Hmmm. Perhaps we really are onto the next show. What do you think? A hoax? A family looking to get their own reality show? Tune in below ... and stay tuned.


Lisa said...

Ok, haven't watched the video, but I think it was a hoax. If my kid was supposedly floating along in a hot air balloon, I'd have been the first one to it when it landed. They weren't there. In all the things I read while it was happening, the parents TOTAL FREAKOUT wasn't mentioned. I'm ok with the kids being home, mostly ok with building it in the backyard (tho it does seem dangerous), the science, everything else. But I don't believe that they thought he was in it and I don't believe they didn't find him at home until after it was over.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Very good point, Lisa, about the parents not being there when the balloon landed. With all the helicopters, etc., you would have thought that someone could have gotten them to the scene within nanoseconds.

Definitely a hoax. Has to be.

Lis Garrett said...

I'm relieved the boy is okay, regardless if it was a hoax or not. But after watching that video, you have to wonder . . .

Cindy said...

I was watching yesterday and I thought that exact same thing why weren't the parents there when the balloon came down. I would have been following it.

Plus during that interview when asked if Falcon heard his parents and he said yes they were like Oh you heard us really calmly I would have been What You heard us and didnt' come out?

But I think it was a hoax and the parents want to have their next 15 minutes of fame which is sad and right out of the mouth of a babe to bring it to light.

Great post.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Cindy, you're right ... if I was on CNN giving such an interview and Boo calmly said, "Yeah, I heard you," and it was the first time I heard that, I'd probably be bleeped off the air and be arrested for what I would likely say on national television. "What the bleepin' bleep do you mean you heard me?!?!!??" :)

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Yes, we are definitely fascinated by others' flaws and foibles, and it is certainly a combination of reasons that motivates us.

Perhaps it all stems from the same fascination people used to display at accident scenes. Now we have the constant media blitz and reality shows to feed our frenzied fascination.

We probably tell ourselves that some families "put themselves out there," (Jon and Kate, etc.) and therefore deserve whatever they get.

Trisha said...

Okay, did that kid say "you said, we did this for a show"? I'm pretty sure that's what I heard and then no one really commented on it...maybe my ears are deceiving me because I lean towards the "parent-generated hoax" idea.

Jessica said...

While the balloon was aloft, I was wondering a lot of the things you asked, "They're different but who am I to judge? The soccer moms all hate me too."

And I think it would have been a great discussion if this was not turning out the way the cynic in me knew it would, as soon as I heard the family had already appeared on Wife Swap.

But it wasn't even the kid's comment that made me question the whole thing. It was the fact that the dad evidently called the local news and asked them to send out a helicopter to "save" his son - before he called 911 like I would have done.

I think it's truly wonderful for people to be unique and different but at the end of the day, there are some values that we must surely all agree on, and not putting children in harm's way is one of them. I can see calling the news for a helicopter in such a situation, but I can't see calling anyone BEFORE calling 911 in such a situation.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

OMG, Jessica ... I hadn't heard that about the dad calling the NEWS before 911! Wow. He probably has the local news station on speed dial.


Alexia561 said...

Will give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but if it does turn out to be a hoax, I hope that the family has to pay both a fine and for the rescue teams!