October
16th 2009
Vindication

Posted under: American history, captivity, childhood, local news, weirdness

Most days, I’m perfectly happy that we keep our TV in the basement out of the way, and that it only gets the bare minimum of cable channels (local broadcast stations plus, for some odd reason, MTV 2, CMT, and Oxygen. As if!) Yesterday and today, I’m really, super-especially happy not to have a TV with the complete cable package.

(I considered posting the video clip here, but I thought that would be abetting the exploitation of the child-named-after-a-raptor who made national news yesterday. If you’re curious, you can see the video at The Daily Beast.)

I don’t care if the “balloon boy” was a hoax or not–how can anyone not see that doing interview after interview with CNN, Larry King, and the Today show (to name just a few examples!) is maybe not what children are all about? Vomiting on national television is his cry for help, people! Will no one answer his call?

File this one under the distortion of childhood by irritating adults who have underdeveloped inner lives.

13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Vindication”

  1. Susan on 16 Oct 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Years ago I was in China at a conference (pre-Tianamen) and we were being interviewed for television. I was sick — not on camera, but I had to leave the room. They packed up the cameras immediately and left. What gives with showing that footage anywhere. That’s not just the parents, it’s the TV show too.

    All I can say is that this is really sick.

  2. Historiann on 16 Oct 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    Susan–I agree, totally. (And I’m sorry you were sick in China, almost on camera!) I think the parents are the ones putting the children out there and they have primary responsibility, but the news shows should just realize that it’s too much for these kids. (I would think that there are a LOT of other people like me who are disgusted by the whole scene.)

    I suppose we all share the blame in this too, in terms of being part of a culture that will watch this stuff on TV. But in this case, it’s both the parents and the media.

  3. Rachel on 16 Oct 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    I don’t often quote the Simpson’s, but in the words of Rev. Lovejoy’s wife: “Would somebody please think of the children!”

  4. Knitting Clio on 17 Oct 2009 at 6:57 am #

    The Denver Post article also suggests that domestic abuse might be involved as the wife had a mark on her face and burst capillaries in her eye when the police showed up. No wonder the children have hiding places all over the house!

  5. Emma on 17 Oct 2009 at 10:00 am #

    If this guy is abusing his wife and then parading her all over the media, that must be some serious abuse.

  6. Historiann on 17 Oct 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Today’s Denver Post has updates on the investigation into the story. The Daily Beast has posted a disturbing YouTube video in which the 3 children in this family engage in some serious gender bullying and repeatedly use the term “p^ssified.” (As in, “jammies are p^ssified!” Srsly.)

    Jammies: a key part of the insidious plot to feminize American men.

  7. Indyanna on 17 Oct 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    In the early e-coverage back here (just the headlinks, and I admittedly didn’t click on the headlinks) I didn’t even realize this “story” was out of Fort C. So this guy was building a flying saucer and aggressively courting reality t.v. producers in hopes of succeeding Kate ‘n Nate, or whoever that other celeb couple was/is? Gross.

    BTW, yesterday I proposed to my U.S. History survey class a history-based reality show called _HistoriCribs_. The members of the First Continental Congress show up in Philadelphia. When they realize they can’t (and really don’t want to) be tenants of the Pennsylvania Assembly in the State House, “Dependence Hall,” they rent a crumbly union hall a block a way. Chaos ensues. The kids liked the idea, and if the just-optioned four teaser episodes fly, I’m outta here!! :)

  8. Historiann on 17 Oct 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Great idea, Indyanna! Maybe you could do a tie in with HGTV called “Pimp my HistoriCrib,” featuring the ins and outs of historic preservationists. Public history would be cool, and we’d all be swamped with grad applications!

  9. Indyanna on 17 Oct 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    Mmm. This angle would also be a way to get some grrls into a show that would otherwise probably descend into a chugging contest between the Northern Liberties Roofers Union (NLRU–B. Franklin Chapter) and the Harvard-William & Mary Political Science Club, J. Adams, pres. Which would doubtless be chaotic enough in its own right.

  10. HistoryMaven on 17 Oct 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    The first season of “Survivor” was the same summer that “1900 House” appeared on PBS. I’m no fan of reality shows, but “1900 House” appealed to this History geek. And I realized, after speaking with “Survivor” addicts that “1900 House” was the real survival show: carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty stove, shaving with a straight razor, making one’s one sanitary napkins, etc., etc. Set within a historical moment in which discovery of the past tests the curiosity and skills of the willing participants, “1900 House” didn’t manipulate (at least not overtly) family members in quest of ratings. Once the form was imported to the U.S., such historic reality shows were subject to reality show tactics, and weren’t that good because of that decision.

    I was raised by a father who wouldn’t let us watch “Candid Camera” because it placed people in situations not of their own making and made them dupes stripped of dignity and privacy (yes, even if the subjects, after the prank, signed a waiver). What happens now is that cable and network news and reality shows strip us of our dignity and privacy.

    If the poor kid had been in that balloon, there would have been some “reward” to the extensive coverage for the media and for the viewers. Now that the public has been “fooled,” we’re looking for the man behind the curtain to blame. The media that exploited it will now not take responsibility for it.

  11. Rad Readr on 17 Oct 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    Those poor kids… but how about poor us!! I was treated to this junk on the local news radio station later on the evening news. This is yet another example of how ridiculous “news” has become. How many bombs were dropped in Afghanistan yesterday? Has there been any significant pullout from Iraq? Who cares? Let’s talk about the kid in the attic. Maybe child protective services should arrest all the reporters interviewing the kids.

  12. Brian on 18 Oct 2009 at 7:52 am #

    History Maven,

    Cheers for your dad for Candid Camera. A couple of years ago sitting in a park outside a bookstore in Boston, Candid Camera tried to put me in a “skit” and the politics of it were disgusting. A very pretty much younger(20+ years)woman sits on the bench with me and proceeds to ask some questions about Boston. I answered them thinking she was visiting the area. An older woman who is dressed as if she may be homeless then sits on the bench and starts feeding the birds which gather around in large numbers. The younger woman says to me “can’t you get rid of her, I so enjoying talking to you.” At this point I am thinking the whole situation is odd so I get up to leave. As I leave I am approached by a Candid Camera person with a release I am asked to sign, though I am told I did not react as I was “suppose to react”.

    Of course how I was suppose to react was based on a number of assumptions: 1) I am heterosexual (I am not); 2) Even if I were straight, I would hope I would not be tempted to pick up a woman who was barely out of her teens; and 3) I was to suppose to get angry at the older homeless woman for daring to interfere in the seduction that should have been taking place had I reacted as I was “suppose to react”. i

  13. Historiann on 18 Oct 2009 at 11:23 am #

    History Maven: right on. Unfortunately, the people who created the unseemly appetite for publicity won’t be punished at all–they’ll just gleefully report on the family’s scrutiny by the Sheriff’s Department and Child Protective Services. (I still think that the father is a major tool and that the parents are mostly to blame. Parents are supposed to exercise better judgment about all of the dangers of the world.)

    Brian: sad, but hillarious story. You should tell them to ascertain whether or not their marks are heterosexualists before enlisting them in the production of cheesy heterosexualist trash like that! Gad.