Okay, so here it really is; the finale you’ve all been waiting for (or at least the three of you who took the time to read my last entry). I think it’s fair to say that all the punishments previously suggested should be implemented as soon as possible. Richard Heene the grandstander must officially change his name to “Dick,” pay back every penny he wasted on his ridiculous stunt, and should be forced to do so without the benefit of ever being able to appear on TV again. Now, I know you’re thinking I am a hypocrite for writing about Dick Heene the day after saying he should be banned from popular media. But understand that with as few readers as I have yet amassed, I do not qualify as popular, and therefore have the freedom to write as much as I want about him until people start actually reading these entries. Either way, let’s get away from my hypocrisy and down to the business of assigning blame for this most asinine of publicity stunts. There are three people/ groups where blame could and should be placed, which is fortunate for me, because (as you no doubt have noticed) I love to write lists. Again in ascending order, allow me to present the blame list.
Culprit #3: Dick Heene Himself
Naturally, the guy who actually did the act should most definitely be considered at fault for the consequences. Dick Heene went out of his way to perpetrate a fraud on millions of people for personal gain. I didn’t do this for him, and neither did you. He is a legal adult, and thus is responsible for his own actions. The nice thing about this fact is that it’s easy to hold an individual accountable for his or her actions, and since we Americans love anything that is easy, Heene will no doubt be appropriately punished for what he did. That said, don’t be surprised when someone else does exactly the same kind of thing again. The reasons why we can expect this to happen are because of the other sources of blame. Moving on to…
Culprit #2: Wall Street
Naturally you are asking yourself what the hell I could be talking about. Wall Street didn’t launch a fake balloon into the sky and draw a bunch of media attention to it in order to gain personal profit, did they? Yes, they did. We all know that these jackasses used media like CNBC and hosts like Jim Cramer to try and get us all to buy in to a system through which they got rich for doing nothing but shamelessly promoting what they knew to be false hype. Sound familiar? I can see Dick Heene’s thought process after all of this being something like “Well, if these so-called ‘captains of industry’ can make millions pushing falsehoods through the media, why can’t I?” Can you blame him? As any successful CEO will tell you, work sucks, and it only follows that work is therefore for suckers. If you honestly believed that you could get rich by doing something shameless and dishonest and get away with it, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. I would. In a freakin’ second. Just like a parent who does drugs passively teaches his or her children to be addicts, so Wall Street set a terrible example for people to follow and they bear some responsibility for the actions they promoted to the public. Dick Heene should hold a news conference (before his sentencing, obviously) where he tells Wall Street brokers “I learned it from you, okay? I learned it from watching you!”
Culprit #1: The American People
I know, I know, you though I was going to blame “reality” TV, right? Here’s the thing. Just like Wall Street, and just like Dick Heene, and frankly just like about anyone in the known universe with the power of rational thought would do, television executives are looking to make as much money as possible while simultaneously doing as little work as possible. To that end, “reality” shows (which are nothing like reality; a real show about reality would be boring as hell, just watch CSPAN) are amazingly profitable and require very little actual work on the part of the studio. The amount of work required to produce a type of show is well beyond the ability of the public to control, but the profitability of a show is based purely on its ability to sell advertising space. Since higher ratings lead to more advertising profits, the American public is alone responsible for the massive profitability of crappy “reality” TV shows where people debase themselves by acting as shamefully as possible for money on a national stage.
In other words; you watch it, you accept the consequences. Every time you lower your intellectual standards to the point where “Rock of Love” or “Hell’s Kitchen” is actually a sufficient way to spend an evening, you create another Dick Heene. If you want to do something about morons like this, turn off your TV and do something else. Read a book, take a walk, get it on with your neighbor, I don’t really care. The next time you want to watch people scream profanities at one another, go to your kids’ soccer game. If you want to see drunk people shouting swear words and having irresponsible sex with someone’s husband or wife, don’t watch “Flava of Love,” go to a bar. Or to your kids’ soccer game. Either way, you can’t complain about the results of “reality” programming unless you are willing to stop contributing to the problem.
There you have it. Dick Heene is a douche bag who got the idea to screw people out of money from Wall Street, then decided to use America’s real favorite pass time as the method by which he committed his stupid, stupid crime. But if we the people actually quit being so damned intellectually lazy and maybe raised our standards of behavior, he would have already known that such actions would never benefit him. As it is, we all basically told him it was a good idea by turning on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” We should be ashamed of ourselves. If Dick Heene really does get a TV show out of all this (and don’t be shocked if he does), we will have been given exactly the punishment we collectively deserve.