The savagely funny Washington Post television columnist Lisa de Moraes takes on the Heene family’s lust for reality television fame. The Heenes and the family behind the balloon boy hoax and subsequent media blitz. Slate’s Culture Gabfest noted that it was not until the post-rescue effort interviews that law enforcement suspected that the whole thing was a publicity stunt.
de Moraes notes that Lifetime has decided not to air the Heene family’s previous attempt at reality television fame and fortune, an appearance on the “Wife Swap” series. I like the way she makes it clear that Lifetime should have pulled it from broadcast based on its exploitative and overall disgusting content, completely apart from the subsequent discrediting of the family’s authenticity.
Lifetime…had no problem with Dad, a.k.a. Richard Heene, observing that “once a woman hits 25, it’s all downhill from there,” creating a “meter” to gauge his temporary, pretend wife’s behavior and when she asked him to help around the house, shouting at her, “You’re a man’s nightmare! I’m so glad my wife was born in Japan. Nag, nag nag! Over 25 years old. You sag!”
Which we believe qualifies as not only sexist and ageist, but maybe also racist, which would make it a veritable Hat Trick of Prejudice.
It’s one thing if the so-called adults in the Heene family want to humiliate themselves for fame and fortune; it’s another to take young children into the media circus with them. We should think carefully about whether the Heene parents’s behavior constitutes child abuse. And we should think even more carefully about the extent to which the robust ratings for this kind of reality television make us all enablers.