Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Flight of Falcon

By Isabelle Anne Abraham

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No it’s just a HOAX!

October 15th: the world wasted two hours of its time following the story of a young boy who was spotted embarking a balloon, which floated away. The helium balloon, untethered in Fort Collins, was monitored as it soared through the skies. Eventually it landed, to everyone’s dismay, without Falcon Heene.

Fears escalated that he had fallen, while others regarded this as a publicity stunt by the Heene family, who had starred in episodes of the program Swapping Wives. Prayers, criticism and scepticism spread across the Internet. Then, after authorities spent a significant amount of time and money searching for the child, he was found. He had been hiding in the garage attic the whole time, afraid of punishment for releasing the balloon.

E! Online reported the event in typical tabloid fashion. Unlike other reports, theirs consisted almost entirely of quotes by celebrities. They relied on outsiders’ opinions of the incident. Mail&Guardian online took a sceptical view of the episode. They focused on the fact that later Falcon said that he did this for a show. TheDenverChannel had perhaps the most comprehensive account of the situation. Their coverage was mostly objective. They estimated how much the authorities spent, they explained why the child was not at school and they described the events in sequence.

So now the question remains, was this simply a naughty boy’s attempt at adventure? Or was it an attention-grabbing scheme plotted by fame-hungry parents?