Monday, October 19, 2009

Paying Attention

I am looking away from the Balloon Boy stories today. The Heenes are tragic, no doubt. Having your family drama - fabricated or not - beamed from sea to shining sea just can't be fun. I know they're reality TV veterans, but when your lawyer is asking the sheriff to resist the spotlight and let you quietly turn yourself in for creating a nationwide panic...well, reality begins to suck. So, I'm looking away from Richard and Mayumi Heene today. I find the rest of us more interesting to ponder. What is it we find so fascinating about this story? I guess it's that we love a happy ending. The tale of a lost and found 6-year old provided that for us last Thursday. We also seem to love juicy gossip. The continuing saga of this offbeat family has fed that hungry animal in us every day since the happy ending was upended by the balloon boy saying to his dad, "I thought we did it for the show." Kids. They'll make us look like fools every time, won't they? What I can't explain about this story and our collective response is all the outrage I've heard over it. People right here in Texas suddenly know exactly how many dollars it costs to put a Colorado National Guard helicopter in the air for an hour, how many Ft. Collins law enforcement dollars can be wasted in one afternoon, and exactly how much a family makes as part of a reality TV show. Waste like this is, apparently, despicable. But, ask the same people what we spent last Thursday on lingering war in Iraq ($720-million) and you'll be lucky to get a shrug. Why aren't we outraged over muddy answers to strategic questions about ongoing war? Ask them how many children in the world died from hunger last Thursday afternoon (16,000). Why aren't we incensed over the disparity between the never-satisfied American consumer and the barely-surviving third world child? Ask how much money was spent last week ($3 million) trying to tell us what to believe about health care reform legislation. Why can't we get a hackle raised about that? I am weary of the low-consequence Balloon Boy story. Let Ft. Collins sort this one out alone. Leave the family to manage its own fame or shame. In the meantime, can we get an eyebrow raised for a costly war or a hungry child or an expensive media propaganda blitz? Peace.


john langford said...

once again, jan, you've hit the nail on the head. thanks for your pithy and provocative insights...a welcome relief from all the hot air out there.

john langford said...

Did you hear what balloon boy's dad said to him when they got home? "'re GROUNDED!"

gay said...

Kudo's this is spot on, in general we do like the happy ending. But do not want to face the real waste that is happening all around the world.