Monday, 19 October 2009

the balloon goes up

It’s been a weekend for balloons. First the story of a young boy feared to have been carried away by his father’s home-made helium filled balloon. Then footballer Darren Bent scores for Sunderland against Liverpool on Saturday, the ball being deflected into the goal by a stray balloon/beach ball on the pitch.

balloon Falcon Heene is the six year old who prompted a panic search in Colorado after his brother reported that he had taken off in a balloon. The events were covered live on U.S. television as police tracked the balloon during its two hour flight. When the balloon landed Falcon was nowhere to be found and a search ensued tracing the balloons trajectory. However, young Falcon was at home the whole time and over the coming hours suspicion began to mount that the whole incident was a not so elaborate stunt set up by his parents to court publicity. It is likely that the parents will face police charges and also a large bill for the cost of the chase across the state. There is much speculation as to the parents’ motives for setting up the scenario and the most popular explanation is that they were seeking publicity in order to attract a lucrative reality T.V. contract.

I guess the question most people will ask is why parents would make up a story about their child being in jeopardy? It seems that some people will do whatever it takes to court publicity, fame and wealth. This is a rather extreme example but there are many others, not least the pushy parents who ‘hot house’ their talented children on the sports field or stage. There is a fine line between wanting to encourage a gifted child and exploiting them in the quest for fame and fortune. We are all too familiar with the tennis prodigy burnt out before her twenties, or the young film star found dead from an overdose before their potential has been fulfilled.

It’s not just the gifted who are encouraged to expose themselves to the glare of publicity in the hunt for success. The plethora of reality T.V. shows demands an ever increasing supply of ‘talent’ desperate to become the next big thing. There is something pathetic about the young lad dismissed by the celebrity panel because he can’t dance or hold a note, only to be filmed being consoled by his mother who maintains the delusion that he is the next Michael Jackson.

When will the balloon go up about the perils of the desperate quest for fame?

As for the other balloon incident, I guess Nena’s 99 Red Balloons won’t be the most popular request at the Liverpool Football Club Christmas party this year.

Darren Bent goal


UKViewer said...

I was wondering if the comment regarding Liverpool's unlucky (for them) Balloon, was an aside for Nick Baines.

But of course, you would not dream of doing that would you?

Philip Ritchie said...

you might ask that, I couldn't possibly comment ;-)