More of our best of the decade coverage, which started on Tuesday. You can read the other posts at the link above. We finish up the series by talking about some of the news events that defined the decade, and how TV covered them.
It seems odd to call the news events of the 00's a "best" list. As we started the 21st century, America seemed to have a different tragedy happening at every twist and turn. There was the Year 2000 bug followed by 9/11 followed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan followed by Hurricane Katrina followed by the worst recession since the Great Depression. We've also had various celebrity deaths recently including the iconic and controversial Michael Jackson.
The tragedies of the decade were accompanied by revolutionary change. America elected its first African-American President. New forms of media such as social networking arose like a phoenix from the ashes of the old media.
The decade was filled with many ups and downs, possibly more downs. The full repercussions of the events won't likely be acknowledged or analyzed for years or decades to come. Wherever we end up, it will have been one hell of a ride.
To be frank, I think they got off easy. These parents did a horrible thing to their child. Oh yes, they inflicted a hoax on the public, but they manipulated their son to create celebrity.
In case you've forgotten, the scheme was to make the world believe that six-year-old Falcon Heene was flying off into danger in a run-away hot air balloon. The media chased the balloon and the story and Falcon was never actually in the balloon. He was hiding in the garage. It was all an attempt by his parents to get TV attention.
It's interesting when one takes the time to look back back at 2009, several scandals that occurred this year were related to television. There were four big reality scandals that occurred in 2009, most of them happening in the second half of the year. They have stayed fresh in pop culture buzz.
This list doesn't count Jon & Kate's drama, all the injuries on Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars, Chima's explosion on Big Brother, or Adam Lambert's sexual preferences. Those events pale in comparison to the five scandals listed.
Playing into the public's fear of child loss and endangerment, the storm-chasing Heene family first reported their six-year-old boy Falcon as trapped in a homemade helium balloon, floating at altitudes nearing 7,000 ft -- thereby setting off a frenzy of media coverage intensely focused on the supposed flight of this very young boy and a distraught family eagerly awaiting his rescue.
But the story gets better: It was all a hoax, a carefully schemed sham created by Falcon's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene -- who captivated a global, news-hungry audience only for sheer thrill ... and maybe a potential reality show deal in the process.
So, this was just another desperate attempt by the family to get on television. Honestly, have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?
I say that because if these parents have even a scintilla of sense, couldn't they have projected what was going to happen when the balloon came down? Couldn't they have seen that there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
- The whole Balloon Boy fiasco and why the 24-hour news networks were so fixated on it,
- Reality news from Michael, including a flu scare on Dancing With The Stars,
- A discussion on why The Simpsons, especially the "Treehouse of Horror" series, is in decline,
- Another dip into our Ask TV Squad mailbag,
- Our picks for the week, and much more.
You can listen to the podcast below, or download it by subscribing to our RSS podcast feed. It is also available via iTunes. Feel free to leave us feedback in the comments.
By the way, the music at the beginning and end of the podcast is "Life" by Justin Trawick.
It seems the folks at Countdown with Keith Olbermann noticed that as well and turned the whole thing into another umpteenth retelling of the classic "Aristocrats" joke. If you're not familiar with the infamous joke about a family walking into a talent agent's office, search for it on YouTube. But don't come whining to me that your ears won't stop bleeding.
Every section of your TV had been preempted and saturated with coverage of what sheriff's deputies believed to be a runaway balloon that was carrying the life of an innocent boy with it. It even preempted the so-called cable "news" networks that interrupted coverage of the pending health care reform bill. That move only would have made sense if insurance companies refused to cover victims of hot air balloon accidents because they considered "gravity" to be a pre-existing condition.
And the really funny part is now it starts getting weird. The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said the family faked the whole thing just so they could get on TV.
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