Unless you've mercifully been living under a rock, you know the story of Balloon Boy. The world was captivated (and hey, most of us were working while this unfolded, so why not watch a UFO float lazily across the Colorado* sky?) by the idea of a terrified six year old caught in a deadly version of Pixar's UP. But in the end, little Falcon Heene was hiding in a box with some sandwiches, every bit a victim of his family's overwhelming greed for fame and fortune as his homebound audience was.
Analysts and watchdogs are blaming that audience as much as they're blaming the news outlets and the Heenes. While I think it's important to keep the story in the public eye precisely to damn the reality show mindset, I think it's also neccessary to mock the story whenever possible. If there's one way to discourage other famewhores, it's reminding them that the public eye is a fickle and nasty mistress. Since Richard Heene obviously intended this stunt to mirror a movie, we thought we'd honor him by listing five of the dumbest families found on the big screen. If there's one thing that's more embarrassing than being outed and charged with a media hoax, it's realizing John Hughes did it before you. And better.
Go below the jump for the list ...
* Oh and Colorado? As one of your native daughters, I beg you to make the news for something that isn't tragic or embarrassing.
1. Home Alone
There were brains in the McCallister family. But they clearly skipped the parental generation to land squarely on little Kevin. His family decides to take the entire clan (Seriously, who were all those family members? Why did it seem like there were so few adults?) to France for the holidays. Now, I've traveled overseas and I know it can be pretty stressful to remember everything. But I forgot a camera USB cabel. They forgot a child. If this film had taken place in 2009, they would have been on TMZ before they managed to get back to American soil, and CNN would be hanging, drawing, and quartering them for the next two weeks.
2. "Cousin Eddie" Johnson and his Kin of the Vacation movies
The skeleton in many a family closet are cousins like the Johnsons. They live in some ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere, win blue ribbons for marijuana, and empty their RV toliet into your storm sewer. While the Griswolds weren't exactly brainiacs (I never could forgive Clark for what he did to vicious little Dinky), at least they didn't have a daughter who boasted "My daddy thinks I'm the best at French kissing."
3. The Bluths of Arrested Development
Yes, this gang is of the small screen, but I'm going to plead their big screen return as an excuse to put them here. (Besides, IFC just optioned to rerun them. If IFC can champion them, I can too!) Besides, the Bluths are the masters of the ill-planned hoax. From Gob's magic acts to Michael's "Solid as a Rock" housefront, the Bluths were constantly victims of their grandest intentions. Unfortunately, none of them (save Michael) even knew what a chicken looked like, so failure was inevitable.
4. The Wormwoods in Matilda
Children's author Roald Dahl specialized in writing nasty, awful parents and teachers. They were all reportedly inspired by the abuse he suffered in British boarding schools, and if creating characters like the Wormwoods was his therapy, I shudder to think what the reality was like. It's difficult to pick just one set of stupid parents from his work (the families of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory rank awfully high), but the Wormwoods must take the cake because they actively discourage education. Their daughter, Matilda, loves to read and asks humbly for a book. Daddy Wormwood dissaudes her because they already have a television. While the movie lacked the book's bite, it upped the moronic factor, and made Matilda out to be the only intelligent person of the household. She should hook up with Kevin McCallister and produce the next Einstein.
5. The Dursleys in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
While I'm tempted to pick the Montagues and the Capulets, I'm bowing to my sister's suggestion (hi, Sarah!) and adding another child abusing family. After all, the Montagues and the Capulets are largely victims of tradition and a country with no rapier control laws. The Dursleys are just mean, nasty, and stupid. Any family who mouths off to a giant like Hagrid, ignores missives from Dumbledore, and says "Whatever, who cares!" about Voldemort deserved to be blown up. A pity J.K. Rowling preserved them over far worthier characters.