Technology: the only way to be a wizard if Hogwarts won't have you.

I'll Bet Richard Heene Has Seen 12 Monkeys!

Date/Time Permalink: 10/19/09 08:03:08 am
Category: Geek Culture

It's so weird, it had to have come from Colorado.

The Balloon Boy story seems to be tailor-made to snag the geek community's attention. It has all the elements of a Science Fiction movie: A couple that lives for the media, a "mad scientist" (authorities and most of the rest of us are only sure about the "mad" part), there's the flying-saucer-shaped balloon itself, yards of aluminum foil ("May I borrow your hat? I'm building something."), and then there's all that white-knuckle action with the Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopters chasing it.

Being the rabid Terry Gilliam fanboy that I am, as soon as I saw this story I immediately thought of the 1995 film 12 Monkeys. One of the subplots in the film involves the news covering a boy who is supposedly trapped in a well, causing various rescue efforts including lowering a monkey with a roast beef sandwich down the well to try to nourish the boy until he can be rescued. As in real life, the story causes a media frenzy on TV and the radio in the movie's universe.

When Bruce Willis (playing the time traveler from the future) hears the story, he dismisses it, saying that the story's a hoax and the boy's hiding in a barn. In fact, this subplot becomes a catalyst crucial to the plot later. When Madeline Stowe (playing Bruce's psychiatrist) sees the story unfold on TV just the way Bruce said it would, that becomes the moment when she first realizes that he was telling the truth about being from the future and not crazy.

And then with this movie keeping a sizable cult following through the years (like any Terry Gilliam movie), we have the Heeses some 14 years later pulling the same stunt, only with a balloon instead of a barn...

Jack Palance from Ripley's Believe It or Not

"Believe it... or not!"

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