Friday, October 16, 2009

Let's Celebrate the Balloon Boy-- A Real American Hero

The Balloon Boy, Falcon Heene, is a hero not only because he has a much cooler name than I. He's a hero because he managed to punk several major news organizations, most especially CNN, tricking them into providing hours of live coverage of f*cking balloon floating through the air.

Now, today I'm watching CNN and they have wall to wall coverage of the kid who was believed to have gotten into the balloon and was flying thousands of feet above the ground in an invention that his dad had created. For two hours, CNN followed the silver balloon in the air and called on experts who spoke on the possibility of the direction of the balloon and where the kid might have been hiding. It was high drama.

The Balloon Boy, Falcon Heene (it's too bad his nickname and his real name are both so awesome, and I must use both when referring to him) was actually hiding out in a box in his attic, the whole time:

Within an hour Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden reported that the 6-year-old boy has been found alive at his home. "He was found in a box in the attic above the garage," the sheriff said.

Brilliant! One daring six year-old boy tricked at least one major news organization into devoting (i.e., wasting) hours of time covering a non-story.

Did CNN not learn anything from Nena's "99 Red Balloons"?

Of course, CNN is the same network that employs a host who was creamed on "Celebrity Jeopardy!". It's also the same network that "fact checked" a Saturday Night Live skit. It's also the same network that inaccurately attributed a disturbing quote to radio personality Rush Limbaugh (are you kidding me? they couldn't find a real disturbing quote to use?). And of course, most damning of all, it's the same network that continues to employ, for some mystifying reason, Larry King.

And who can forget this classic prank call:

We need more Balloon Boys. We need pranksters to expose just how bankrupt and pathetic are our news organizations. They must be undermined at every turn, because they are calcified and they cannot be trusted. They let their desire for a "story," in particular a story that verifies their own preconceptions or touches on their own fears, overwhelm their ability to check their facts.

We can't trust them with the Balloon Boy story. We can't trust them at all.

The Balloon Boy, Falcon Heene, is a real American hero.

And now, after the fact, after millions of Americans watched in-- what? Horror at what might happen to the poor Balloon Boy? Anticipation at what might happen?-- now CNN's "Celebrity Jeopardy!" loser Wolf Blitzer is on the case:

Go after the kid, Wolf! Don't let little six year-old Balloon Boy Falcon Heene, who had spent his day being interviewed by multiple television programs, get away with that half answer. Use that same zeal with which you "fact checked" a comedy skit on Saturday Night Live to go after a six year-old kid. Way to go, Wolf!

It's not possible he's pranking you again, is it? It's not possible that six year-old Balloon Boy Falcon Heene is that much smarter than you- that he could throw out one little off-hand, cryptic, and joking comment about it being "for the show," and you would pounce on it?

"We're just thrilled that Falcon is alive and well and your family is together- we watched all of this play out during the course of several hours and I've got to tell you personally as a reporter who reported that he was alive and well, it was a thrilling moment for me because you know I was really, really worried that I would have to report something very, very different and I was just grateful that he was just fine."

Wolf, I do not believe you. If you were truly worried, why then did you show the buffeting and rocking in the wind of the balloon that you feared contained the Balloon Boy?

The balloon was seen tilting to one side and being tossed back and forth in the wind. Then the balloon appeared to start deflating on one side.

TV news choppers circled the device, trying to follow it as it floated and dropped in the breeze. One estimate said the device was travelling at about 40km/hr at one stage.

Truly, Wolf, you were concerned for the Balloon Boy, Falcon Heene's, safety.

BONUS: Another Howard Stern-related classic prank call; the "I See OJ" call to ABC just after the OJ Simpson white Ford Bronco chase:

And, because I was thinking about it, here is the press conference given by Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, the two artists arrested after law enforcement officials went batsh*t crazy mad over Aqua Teen Hunger Force promotional art. The art itself was not a hoax-- how could anyone have anticipated that Boston would be so full of jackasses who would think that LED art were terrorist devices?-- but the press conference they gave following their release was a classic. Watch the frustration of the "journalists" when neither Berdovsky nor Stevens seems to be taking the matter "seriously":

In fact, they took it as seriously as they should have.

Balloon Boy pic source.


Anonymous said...

"The Balloon Boy, Falcon Heene (it's too bad his nickname and his real name are both so awesome, and I must use both when referring to him)..."

you state the most profound, but hilarious factoids.

Ricky Sprague said...

Thanks. I think it's very unfair that one kid has such a cool given name, on top of a cool nick name. No matter how cool the kid is.

In other words, it was mostly resentment that led me to the observation.

Speaking of resentment, TMZ is reporting that some of the wheat crop where the balloon landed was destroyed:

That is not so cool.

And, possibly, the father called a TV station before calling 911:

Of course, if it was a hoax, he should not have called 911 at all. If not, you might expect him to call 911 first-- unless the 911 system where he lives is as bad as it is in certain parts of Los Angeles, NYC, and other large cities. In that case, you might get a faster response from the TV station.

A.Jaye said...

That story was all over Sky News and the BBC. As soon as I heard it I thought Health & Safety would nab the kid for flying without a liscence. Then I realised it was in America. And I thought Homeland Security would implement Defcon 3.

As it turns this episode highlights not all people with 'cool names' are as cool as their monikers.