By Sam Adams
Millions of viewers sat aghast, eyes fixed to a TV or computer screen, watching a weather balloon that may or may not have contained a small boy floating across the Colorado sky. The world skidded to a halt as the so-called “Balloon Boy” saga unfolded before our very eyes. As the supposed aviator Falcon (oh, the irony) later told us after emerging from the attic, it was all a hoax engineered to better position his family for a reality show. My first reaction was to see if I could get away with floating a sophomore as part of an SSR project; the project was grounded due to lack of brave volunteers. The fact that parents would crave fame so much as to risk the thousands of dollars in therapy that the kid will require after the ordeal is a terrifying reflection on our cultural values.
Take the recent White House state dinner crashers. Two socialite morons decided to play Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn to campaign for a role on an upcoming reality show. That became the story of the evening; Not the presence of a major world leader, not the importance of a strong alliance with India, not even the green curry prawns that were served. Instead, we heard for weeks about the two chumps who really wanted to be on TV.
We may hear stories like these and scoff. We may go on with our daily lives with the quiet satisfaction that, yes, we are in fact better than these attention whores, but look deep down and youâll probably find a reality TV star just yearning to break free and crash the White House.
We live in an age where we can follow the lives of stars via Twitter and Facebook as though we were watching the plot of their latest blockbusters unfold. The line between the real life and the glittering mystique of celebrity is blurred. If Brad Pitt goes to the grocery store like I, by the transitive property I must indeed be a star!
Many of us live as though we are the stars of our own reality show. Those around us are supporting characters as we go through the insulated existence from each episode. A fight with a boyfriend or girlfriend becomes a cliffhanger; tune in next week. College decisions? Sweeps Week. Our existence has become insulated by the camera lens we perceive to be following us as we walk through our daily lives.
The American Dream once stood for working hard and rising up in the world. But no longer is the endgame a house in the suburbs, a stable job and 2.2 children. The new Dream is to concoct something so outrageous that someone is bound to give us the reality show we deserve. Weâll rewrite the inscription on the Statue of Liberty: give me your Octomoms, your Hiltons, your desperate housewives yearning to breathe free.
Weâre all guilty of this affliction. Itâs time for our superegos to come out of their shells and break the bonds. At the end of the day, do we really want to keep up with the Kardashians?