The Ballad of Balloon Boy
October 4, 2016 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Seven years ago, an incredibly stupid mystery captivated CNN. Today, thanks to cable news, Balloon Boys are everywhere. posted by poffin boffin (68 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now you don't have to bother faking an actual event, just throw up a fake newspaper site, get people to tweet about it and actual news outlets will start reporting it like its fact! Huuzah for progress!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:06 AM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Better and worse: stories from The Onion have been reported as fact by various news outlets around the world, including The New York Times, an ESPN announcer, and Fox Nation (an opinion site related to Fox News).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:13 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Heene boys are now in a heavy metal band called the Heene Boyz, and the front page of their website features a pro-Trump anthem with Falcon on lead vocals.

Because of fucking course.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:13 AM on October 4, 2016 [37 favorites]


A little part of me died just now.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:15 AM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Heene boys are now in a heavy metal band called the Heene Boyz, and the front page of their website features a pro-Trump anthem with Falcon on lead vocals.

Because of fucking course.


Hey, do you vaguely remember [Name] from a few years ago? Was your first reaction to hearing [Name] "Ugh, that person was the fucking worst"? Well, they're stumping for Trump now, so... good job. You're right.

It's weird how often that works.
posted by Etrigan at 11:16 AM on October 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


Heh. I defended Balloon Dad a bit in that previous thread. I mostly stand by my statements, though the guy did kind of prove to maybe not be the best dad ever and, yeah, Trumps supporter and all that.
posted by bondcliff at 11:17 AM on October 4, 2016


Of course attention whoring reality TV wannabe celebrity types who would do anything to get famous are getting on the Trump train. He's the candidate who makes that kind of superficial dream seem attainable.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:22 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I made an "always blow on the pie" joke in that thread and I have forgotten what the hell I was referring to. A Kiwi cop's suggestion to a criminal? I don't even remember that story.
posted by maxsparber at 11:24 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Considering CNN's Jeff Zucker is credited/blamed with a "singular role in promoting Donald Trump’s rise", it all comes together...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:26 AM on October 4, 2016


I followed that thread as much as I possibly could. Worried about the kid for ages. I think it was really a turning point for the worse in my information addiction. My contempt for Richard Heene is bottomless.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:31 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


an incredibly stupid mystery captivated CNN MeFi

1463 comments, guys? Really?

*Shakes head sadly*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Today, the Balloon Boy saga is remembered, if at all, as a weird artifact from a mildly simpler time, a moment when the media gatekeepers were briefly and harmlessly fooled by a particularly cunning specimen of indigenous American fame whore.

If 2009 was a simpler time I'm just terrified about what 2023 is going to be like and how simple and peaceful 2016 will seem.
posted by bleep at 11:31 AM on October 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


It deserves to be remembered as the moment when cable news emerged from its chrysalis and became the entity it was genetically destined to become: a fundamentally unjournalistic medium uniquely susceptible to the wheedlings of vain and manipulative grifters, condemned to follow shiny objects until the end of time.

Surely this happened long before 2009.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 11:33 AM on October 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Right now a local radio station's running mock campaign ads pitting Fort Collins and Greeley against each other.

Greeley's ad has the line: "Remember Balloon Boy? That's Fort Collins for you."

So every morning on my commute I hear that and spend just that more of my life being reminded of Balloon Boy. Amazing.
posted by rewil at 11:38 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


1463 comments, guys? Really?

It was a breaking news thread. It was this generations OJ chase.
posted by bondcliff at 11:38 AM on October 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


Oct15 2:53 PM: FPP
Oct15 3:35 PM:   99th comment (Balloon lands)
Oct15 6:04 PM:  520th comment (Child located)
Oct27 8:50 PM: 1463rd comment (Last comment)

posted by Herodios at 11:40 AM on October 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


i like how the breaking news part of the thread was like 100-150 comments, tops, and the rest was physics nerds huffily equationing at one another.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:42 AM on October 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


It was a breaking news thread. It was this generations OJ chase.

Or it was the OJ generation's second OJ chase. Perhaps the first OJ chase of the always-connected Internet period. They were both awfully stupid and yet you lean over the cubicle and ...

"Hey whatcha doing?

...

OMG still watching Balloon Boy?!"

...

"THERE'S A SIX-YEAR-OLD BOY IN THERE!"

I hate cable news. I'm not one of those kill-your-television types, but god, please kill cable news.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:43 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I recall some horror movie where there's a child at a fair, and he starts following this balloon that's floating away. He's so captivated that he wanders away from his parents and off a cliff, or into traffic, or into the arms of an evil clown.

Pretty sure that's how the media gave us Trump.
posted by adept256 at 11:44 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't like to check in old news stories. That kid who got his arm bit off by an alligator? A friend of the family stole all the money that was donated to him and was accused of a string of burglaries a few years ago.

I have been afraid to check in on Steven Slater, the JetBlu flight attendant. He was my hero.
posted by maxsparber at 11:47 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: The Heene boys are now in a heavy metal band called the Heene Boyz

Previously: "I don't push anything on my kids," he said, again and again. (July 5, 2013) Balloon Boy's Tween Heavy Metal Career Lifts Off
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


At least those Prussian Blue girls seem to have turned out okay.
posted by maxsparber at 11:50 AM on October 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: physics nerds huffily equationing at one another
posted by vibrotronica at 11:51 AM on October 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


We're all devo balloon boy.

TV news is all the bluster of professional wrestling without the wrestling. We're moving into Fahrenheit 451 territory here, which wasn't just about books, it was about mass media using appeals to emotion to make us ignorant.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:59 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


who's at fault here, the people who continually chase balloon stories or the people who got fooled in 2009 and never changed their source for news?
posted by any major dude at 12:00 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Previously: "I don't push anything on my kids," he said, again and again. (July 5, 2013) Balloon Boy's Tween Heavy Metal Career Lifts Off

Me in that thread (that I had completely forgotten):

There is serious chicken/egg/God thing happening here with Gawker-gossip-culture/the Heene family/we the audience for shit like this. I can't tell what came first anymore.

Still true.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:01 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean, except for Gawker
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:01 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Schrodingers BubbleBoy
posted by blue_beetle at 12:09 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I recall some horror movie where there's a child at a fair, and he starts following this balloon that's floating away. He's so captivated that he wanders away from his parents and off a cliff, or into traffic, or into the arms of an evil clown.

Incidentally this sounds like it might be from the 1931 film M, directed by Fritz Lang who had also directed Metropolis, with Peter Lorre as the star.
posted by XMLicious at 12:09 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


My favorite part of this whole mess was the panicked fart that went out just as the family realized the boy spilled the beans.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:22 PM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


He buys her a balloon in "M". Starts around 3:40.
posted by praemunire at 12:25 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


the rest was physics nerds huffily equationing at one another

Folks jumping on Pastabagel for calling the parents out as narcissistic fucks is pretty good. I need a PBAG WAS RIGHT t-shirt.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:30 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


"UPDATE Taylor Swift to host 'SNL' next month"
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 12:31 PM on October 4, 2016


I called it as a hoax early on in that thread, and was roundly berated for my lack of empathy. You may all apologize to me now.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:40 PM on October 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


In "Brain Candy," Scott Thomson's Mother Hurdicure character gets locked in her worst memory, which was losing her grandson when she gave him too many balloons. The boy's mother complains that he missed the clown.
posted by maxsparber at 12:41 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: ""THERE'S A SIX-YEAR-OLD BOY IN THERE!""

He's THIRTEEN now.
posted by chavenet at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2016


[One deleted. Please don't bring unrelated fights in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2016


bonobothegreat at 12:11 pm, October 15:
I'm hoping the kid isn't really inside it. Maybe he untethered it and hid and hid somewheres.
So, bonobothegreat, who are you hoping for in the 8th at Pimlico?
posted by notyou at 1:01 PM on October 4, 2016


Their "rockestra," American Chilly, looks like it merits [actual] testimonials including "Come and see what he throws" and "My husband says it's stuck in his head."
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:16 PM on October 4, 2016


I'm honestly still really happy with the song I recorded at the time, from mikepop's lyrical adaptation of Darling Corey.
posted by cortex at 1:16 PM on October 4, 2016


The highlight of the whole thing- apart from the guy farting in terror- was that when the balloon landed and the police approached it one of the cops drew his gun.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


you know, there was something inspirational about that, because i did a song, too
posted by pyramid termite at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2016


1463 comments, guys? Really?

/me checks for old boymode mefi account in that thread

*whew* that was still during my decade of being a lurker here.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:47 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


The highlight of the whole thing- apart from the guy farting in terror- was that when the balloon landed and the police approached it one of the cops drew his gun.

He actually farted? Like not a metaphor? Forgive me I am not up on Balloon Boy history.
posted by Jalliah at 1:55 PM on October 4, 2016


He actually farted

He sure did. 0:37
posted by quite unimportant at 2:06 PM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


He actually farted

He sure did. 0:37 yt
posted by quite unimportant


This is my favorite username/comment combo ever.
posted by bleep at 2:10 PM on October 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


WHERE'S THE PLANE?
posted by schmod at 2:13 PM on October 4, 2016


I made an "always blow on the pie" joke in that thread and I have forgotten what the hell I was referring to. A Kiwi cop's suggestion to a criminal? I don't even remember that story.

How could you forget the food safety advice that echoed across the globe?
posted by Sparx at 2:20 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heene was a former stand-up comedian who co-hosted an online talk show called the Psyience Detectives; according to the YouTube clips I’ve found, the show’s editorial priorities centered on determining whether the world would end in 2012. (It did not.)

Come on, Slate! Haven't you ever heard of a spoiler alert!
posted by TedW at 2:24 PM on October 4, 2016


He sure did. 0:37

How did I not know this before. I can't stop laughing.
posted by Jalliah at 2:27 PM on October 4, 2016


when the balloon landed and the police approached it one of the cops drew his gun.

clearly you've never been exposed to the dangers of a child in the throes of balloon-madness
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:44 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Speaking of pastabagel, here's a vintage The Last Psychiatrist post on the Balloon Boy coverage.

Man, I miss those two. When I get sad, I imagine them meeting on a beach far away, finally free, like at the end of Shawshank.
posted by officer_fred at 3:26 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


clearly you've never been exposed to the dangers of a child in the throes of balloon-madness

Especially one coming down hard from a helium high.
posted by notyou at 3:28 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


There was a fantastic image, it was like one of those motivational posters with the all around black border, and at the top it said "Balloon Boy" and at the bottom, "The Day America Stood and Watched" which made me laugh as it did seem like the USA ground almost to a halt while everyone was online discussing and posting about this. Couldn't find the image; in searching, I found a pic of the band though.

I am with maxsparber - I have sometimes wondered what happened to Stephen Slater. There was even a song by Astrozombie and Cortex. CNN played it. I remember a comment in the thread about how the CNN piece had "words by Astrozombie" on the screen.
posted by marienbad at 3:49 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]




He actually farted

He sure did. 0:37 yt
posted by quite unimportant


The title of that video is "Balloon Boy Falcon Farts on Larry King" and I laughed hard enough to startle a cube dweller at the far end of aisle. Well done, YouTube, well done.
posted by hanov3r at 4:38 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


According to the AV Club recap, the TV show Gotham's version of Batman was inspired by a vigilante who tied bad guys to balloons. I still kinda refuse to believe that.

I never got interested in balloon boy, but doing stupid stunts for fame is as old as time, and a pretty effective way to get some money and fame these days. The more you broadcast yourself, the more you push yourself to a wide audience, the more people you'll find who'll buy whatever you are selling.

This kind of 'where are they now - viral edition' story always makes me think of Eels Whatever Happened To Soy Bomb.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:20 PM on October 4, 2016


I am with maxsparber - I have sometimes wondered what happened to Stephen Slater. There was even a song by Astrozombie and Cortex.

I remember it well!

I used to be astrozombie
posted by maxsparber at 8:25 PM on October 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Poppycock. Astro Zombie lives at the North Pole with Alex Trebek, Unicorn Abraham Lincoln, the character Stephen Colbert, and Santa Claus, all of them ready to return if ever we need them.
posted by XMLicious at 8:49 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I remember it like it was last week.
posted by mazola at 10:49 PM on October 4, 2016


That's weird, I'm now at the point where every day is "I can't believe how long ago that was" but I'd swear this story happened at least 20 years ago.
posted by bongo_x at 10:55 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Heene boys are now in a heavy metal band called the Heene Boyz

(bangs head repeatedly on desk)

Remember when that pos "dad" was hawking back scratchers made from sticks?(https://youtu.be/obw3HUTLEQ4) good times

I always thought there was something really wrong with that guy. I still do, and I still believe they should have locked his sorry scamming ass in jail
posted by james33 at 3:53 AM on October 5, 2016


He sure did. 0:37

Huh. I wonder if there's an autotune the news of this. Do I even need to ask.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:36 AM on October 5, 2016


Balloon Boy Falcon Farts on Larry King

I honestly spent 10 minutes just now researching why I'd never heard of the term "falcon fart" before, and trying to pin down exactly what it meant. I mean, I was assuming it was a fart which dramatically underscores an emotional moment, but I was trying to work out if the term described an anxiety fart or a well-timed fart, or one that leaves an awkward pause after, or one that people power through and pretend never happened.

It was a stressful 10 minutes until I got the "Oh! The boy's name is Falcon!" epiphany, because, well, see for yourself.
posted by ambrosen at 11:04 AM on October 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean, I was assuming it was a fart which dramatically underscores an emotional moment,

It does now! We have needed such a word!

Falcon fart!
posted by maxsparber at 12:47 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Adding to cortex's and pyramid termite's musical interpretations of the Balloon Boy saga, some classmates of mine at the time made a cheerful song and music video about it that I still sing to myself all the time.
posted by Pfardentrott at 12:54 PM on October 5, 2016


I'm still unconvinced the whole "scary clown" thing isn't this years balloon boy, and it's going to take like heroic evidence to convince me otherwise. It has every single tell of being like, a cross between clickbait and something like jenkem goons would try and sell everyone in the old days.
posted by emptythought at 6:18 PM on October 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


🎈
posted by XMLicious at 1:50 AM on October 6, 2016


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