It seems that there is a total sense of humour failure endemic throughout the world when it comes to stunts like the ‘Balloon Boy’ incident, as the ongoing trial of the parents proves – they apparently pleaded guilty only after the wife, who is Japanese, was threatened with deportation.
Certainly, the need to think about wider concerns makes outlandish and outrageous stunts a more difficult prospect in this health and safety and desperately money-conscious world. Some years ago, a band wanted me to help them arrange to completely stop traffic in Piccadilly Circus so they could play a gig from a flat bed truck – I had to hold a hand up and say “what are we going to do if an ambulance comes through with a heart attack victim on board?” The need to stand back and question all possible outcomes is even more imperative nowadays.
As much as the Rupert Pupkinish hedonistic approach is appealing, for its ability to grab headlines and for the sheer thrill of pulling something extraordinary and outrageous off, the parents of ‘Balloon Boy’ are proof positive that care has to be taken and that serious thought has to be applied if you don’t want an initially amused and fascinated public to turn on you if even the smallest thing goes wrong. Fame for the sake of it can be a costly business.