IT'S A HOAX! Fort Collins,Colorado Sheriff,Jim Alderden made the announcement yesterday, in regards to the balloon incident that had the world watching three days before. CNN.com reports that as a tearful Colorado family watched their homemade balloon fly through the air on Thursday, they knew that their son was hiding in the attic in spite of their telling reporters that they believed the six year old boy was inside the balloon.
Authorities became suspicious of the incident on Thursday night, when Richard and Mayumi Heene appeared on Larry King Live, which was hosted by fill in anchor, Wolf Blitzer. During the interview, the Heenes asked their son Falcon why he didn't come when they called his name. (Falcon was the boy that was supposedly missing)
"You guys said we did this for the show," the boy responded.
WHAT? Ahhhhhh....Out of the mouths of babes!
As a result, charges are pending against the Heenes, who apparently thought the incident would be a great publicity stunt as they tried to market themselves to be on a reality show in the future. Police are also questioning 25-year old Robert Thomas who had worked with Richard Heene as a researcher last spring. Thomas had sold the story of his experience to the popular gossip site Gawker.com., and police believe he may have acted as a co-conspirator in this incident.
As a result of their stunt, Heene and his wife are likely to be charged with three felonies including: Conspiracy to Commit a Crime, Illegal Influence of a Public Servant, and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. If found guilty they will both be headed to jail.
In one final twist to this already bizarre story, CNN now reports, that a nearby University Physics Professor said the balloon would never have taken off in the first place as the boy was too heavy for it to get off the ground. This now gives further credence to the conspiracy theory behind the whole incident.
So what should happen to the Heenes? I hope their fifteen minutes of fame was worth the price they'll likely have to pay for it. Have we as a society gotten so hungry for fame that we're willing to risk our families and our own futures just so we can get on camera? Thankfully most of us aren't as far gone as the Heenes, but they certainly aren't alone in their quest for national attention.
Narcissism has reached an all time high (or low) in America, with many being willing to do anything to get themselves on camera. It's a disease that is permeating our culture and part of the blame goes to the producers of many of the disgusting reality shows that fill our airwaves. It's sad and bizarre that people will allow themselves to do all kinds of immoral and gross deeds, so they can have a shot at winning some money and signing their own television deal.
While the producers of the endless number of shows must bear part of the reponsibility, those who watch them are also at fault. If there were no ratings, there would be no shows that sink to the lowest common denominator. (that lowest common denominator also includes shows like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich who exploit the disfunction of people for their own publicity and ratings gain) This whole "car wreck" mentality of watching, as people are being destroyed in front of the camera, is enough to make one physically ill.
I hope the Heenes are punished severely for their crime, as many lives were put at risk including the lives of those who were trying to help save a child. I wonder if anyone didn't get to the hospital last Thursday because the crews were out trying to save a boy who didn't need saving. I wonder how many dollars were lost as helicopters and life squads fled to the scene. I also wonder if the Heenes have any idea about what they've done to themselves and their family, as they tried to get a TV contract with no thought about the consequences. Probably not. Their lawyers are already crying that they're getting a raw deal, and we're all guilty of watching as their saga continues to unfold, which is what they wanted in the first place.
When it's all said and done, the Heenes will get what they set out to get,and their names will be remembered by those of us who prayed for their child. However, I wonder if twenty years from now they'll be proud of their accomplishment as they sit childless,in jail?
My guess is that as they reflect on what could have been, little Falcon will be seeking his own fame at that point, perhaps writing a tell-all book about his horrible experience in foster care, and the suffering he had to endure because of his parents selfishness. After all, he was exposed to the camera early in life, and it may not be easy for him to give up his place in the spotlight.
One can only imagine the life that this child and his siblings will have after all of this, but one thing is sure to occur. As they grow up without their parents, be it with relatives or in foster care, I think it will be very likely that one day they'll be too busy with their own pursuits to stop by the prison on visiting day.