This past Friday, it seemed like everyone was fixated on the “balloon boy,” the little boy who supposedly took off in his father’s giant weather balloon but was found hiding in the family’s attic. Come Sunday, and we find out the entire thing was a hoax perpetrated by a fame-hungry father, Richard Heene, who was hoping to use the incident as a springboard to their own reality show.
Did somebody say, “Ugh?”
The Heene family was already seen on one reality television series, the trashy Wife Swap, where Richard claimed to be descended from aliens and saw domestic chores as “women’s work.” His children were shown swearing, being rude, and flatulating on national TV. After the show was over, he even had them record a “music video” called (I kid you not) “Not Pussified.”
Depressing, isn’t it?
But not surprising. It’s just the latest and greatest of TV reality families who use their children to gain money and fame. It’s a who’s who of disturbing parenting: the Duggars, the Gosselins, Octomom, and now, the Heenes, who are facing criminal charges for turning something as serious as a missing child into a tax-dollar-wasting publicity stunt.
From Toddlers & Tiaras to Nanny 911, more and more families are trading the privacy of their children’s growing (and perhaps embarrassing and awkward) years for the opportunity to be on television. The parents will drag kids on early-morning interviews, make them lie to the press (6-year-old Falcon Heene told reporters, “...we did it for the show…” by mistake), and humiliate them, all for a little air time. It’s as if these stage moms and dads see their children not as individuals but as extensions of themselves. Or worse, like pets who can balance a ball on their noses.
DO YOU THINK KIDS SHOULD BE ALLOWED ON REALITY TV?