Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bad Parenting as Reality TV

What is up with the Heene family and their hot air balloon stunt? I am trying to imagine a man so desperate for attention, so desperate to become famous and make millions, that he would jeopardize his family and the psychological well-being of his own children. Where once musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and actors dreamed of recognition and the opportunity to use their gifts to advance the evolution of humankind; now un-evolved ordinary individuals with no apparent creative ability seek fame and fortune through exposure on reality TV. After seeing so many tabloid headlines about the Gosselins, watching part of an episode of that Nanny Show at a diner one night, hearing about the Wife Swap show, and then reading with horror about the Heenes, I am beginning to wonder if reality TV is pretty much all about bad parenting and child abuse. I think I’m going to start a reality TV show called Worst Parents Get Spanked.

When the media tried to interview Falcon Heene about his day hiding in the attic, he threw up. Twice. It doesn’t take a child psychologist to figure out that having his dad expect him to lie on national TV made Falcon sick to his stomach. Thank goodness for him and his own conscience that he finally said “We did it for the show.” (Anyone remember that 1999 Peter Weir movie with Jim Carrey called “The Truman Show” about the guy who grew up on a reality TV show without realizing it?) While real artists and celebrities who earned their fame with sweat, blood, and guts work hard to protect the privacy of their family life and to give their children a wholesome childhood, reality TV chasers do whatever it takes to exploit their children for profit. The upshot for the Heenes may be that their children are taken from them by Child Protective Services. And I have to ask myself if the Heene boys are better off in the system or with their whacked parents, who believe in aliens and that the world will end in 2012. Usually, I would say with the parents. In this case? Run, Heene boys, run.

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