The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal
“With fakery everywhere today, people retreat into a shell of cynicism about everything.”
The “balloon boy” floating over Colorado last week got me thinking of the Obama photo-op airliner flying around lower Manhattan last April at 9/11 altitude. This is not to suggest that the Obama presidency is a hoax, though more on that later. It is to suggest it’s getting harder to know what’s real and unreal in a world that always seems to be slipping slightly out of focus.
The best thing to emerge from the balloon boy story, other than the uncontestable fact that six-year-old Falcon Heene was safe on the ground, is that the guy who did it thought that staging a hoax would get him into reality TV programming. It had to come to this.
I love reality TV, though I never watch it. Reality TV—”Project Runway,” “Celebrity Rehab” or “The Real Housewives of North Dakota,” (I made that up, but would watch)—is just about the perfect metaphor for the world we’re all trying to live in now. More often than not, you have to ask yourself whether what’s in front of you is real, sort of real, a hoax or what. Writing about the balloon-boy fiasco in the Toronto Star, a bemused Vinay Menon wondered whether hoaxer Richard Heene was “even a real person and not a CNN hologram.”
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