One-Question Q&A

1QA: Chuck Klosterman on Falcon Heene

Stephen Blackwell :: Thursday, November 5th, 2009 1:00 pm

Chuck Klosterman is the best-selling author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Killing Yourself To Live, and Fargo Rock City, which is currently being adapted for film. His latest collection of essays, Eating the Dinosaur, is available now.

In the essay in Eating the Dinosaur about surveillance and voyeurism, “Through a Glass, Blindly,” you wrote, “There were certain things I knew I would always see because reality programing is constructed around predictable plot devices.” It is, except when people start using the news as if it were reality television. I can’t stop thinking about what you think about Falcon Heene. How do you think we got to the point where people pretend their child is hovering in a giant balloon above the earth so they can get on television?

Everyone has heard the cliche, “All publicity is good publicity,” but normal people don’t believe that. Of course, normal people don’t build Jiffy Pop space machines or appear on programs titled “Wife Swap.” What I think has happened is this: A certain segment of society has become very uncomfortable with the very notion of normalcy. They see a normal life as a bad life, or as an unsatisfying life. As such, they live as though they are *always* on TV, even when they are alone in their living room. They view themselves less as “people” and more as “characters.” They imagine that everything that happens in their actual life is really just plot mechanics. To this type of person, a media hoax is simply a funny storyline in the reality TV show that is their literal reality. They don’t feel like they’re alive unless strangers (who’ll they’ll never never meet!) are validating their existence. I assume the parents of Falcon Heene don’t believe that what they did was necessarily wrong; in fact, they might view this whole affair as a minor success. It was the highest rated episode of their daily life. Their biggest regret is probably that they don’t have another son named Digger — they could take him skiing, fabricate an avalanche, and potentially get on “The Amazing Race.”

2 Responses to “1QA: Chuck Klosterman on Falcon Heene”
  1. “It was the highest rated episode of their daily life. ”

    Sir, you are blowing my goddamn mind.

    Posted by: Braden November 5th, 2009 at 1:22 pm
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