What is it about opportunistic dads (and moms) who see their kids not so much as a mouth to feed but as a meal ticket out of poverty?
First there was Falcon Heene, the 6-year old boy whom his father, Richard Heene wanted everyone to believe was trapped in a mylar space ship floating perilously above the earth last October sometimes reaching heights of 7,000 feet. When the balloon touched ground hours later, there was no 6-year old aboard and what unfolded was a story of a family trying desperately to get their 15 minutes of fame and a television deal to solve some financial woes.
Laurence Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, California is the latest father to make the decision to put one of his children in harm’s way to make a few bucks in the reality show business. His daughter, 16-year old Abby Sunderland, was recently plucked from the Indian and is ok, thanks to some quick-thinking rescuers. But it could have turned out much worse. Stranded for three days in the rough waters of the Indian Ocean with no satellite phone and a broken sail mast, Abby came home to the news that the family was broke but she was gonna start earning her keep.
Some of the more fortunate kids are only forced onto shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent to dance or sing their way to stardom, even if most of them can’t dance or sing. But at least it’s a helluva lot more honorable than making them lie or putting them directly in harm’s way and hoping all will work out in the end.
But what of the kids whose parents don’t seem to be wrapped too tight like the aforementioned dads? What’s next? Who’s to say Bubba Johnson, a snake handler from Holymoley, Alabama isn’t training his 6-year old son as we speak to follow in dad’s deadly religious ceremonies and, since the mortgage on the trailer is in foreclosure, striking a deal with TLC to document the whole wild Pentecostal ride for our viewing pleasure?
Or what if a dad decides he wants his 3-year old to become the first MMA toddler champ? Of course, we’d have to assume then that there are at least two knuckleheaded dads with the same idea, as it takes two to pull off this potentially deadly reality tango.
Just when we think there is no end in sight to how far a parent will go to capitalize on their child’s potential money-making talents, we see a Baby Gaga or a Baby Scarface school play to remind us that there are plenty of desperate adults out there with their thinking caps screwed on a bit too tightly.
Next time you hear sirens screaming down your neighborhood streets and you know that one of your neighbors has been having a rough go of it financially, go out there and take a look-see. You might just be the first one on your block to see firsthand how reality shows are really born. See, it starts with an egg and a lot of sperm, the sperm swims upstream to fertilize the egg, nine months later, etc. etc. etc.