This latest Balloon Boy-type hoax involving the 8-year-old girl getting pricked by her own mother’s Botox-laden hand might turn out to be a disgusting ploy used to tug at our heartstrings to sell us papers, magazines and television gossip shows.
I’m also sorry to say this Botox-Mom media scandal is looking like another amateur episode of Reality TV gone wrong, and there should be consequences for all parties involved in publishing this rubbish.
This piece of Reality TV-inspired journalism was first reported in the British tabloid The Sun, after they (allegedly) paid Kelly Campbell to reveal her minor daughter’s unconventional beauty routine.
When photos surfaced of Campbell (a.k.a. Sheena Upton) giving her 8-year-old daughter Botox injections to keep her in tip-top beauty-pageant shape, it was like watching a bad re-run of the installment we lived through a couple of years ago when we witnessed Richard Heeny’s (failed) attempt at reality TV fame.
He admitted coaxing his small son into lying he was trapped in the home-made balloon which accidentally blew away carrying the boy in it.
Remember the fear we felt as we were riveted to our television sets hoping for the best outcome to that incident? Almost two years later, did this event have a happy ending?
You tell me: the parents were jailed, the kids were taken by child protective services, and the lessons from this pathetic story resonated with whom? Obviously not with the right people.
But, whether or not The Sun cajoled, fabricated or paid for the story about the 8-year-old getting Botox injections from her mom to sell their paper is beside the point now -- you have to consider the source.
This paper is a tabloid, and has a long-standing reputation for sensationalizing stories to increase circulation.
Of greater concern is the fact that journalists, purportedly well-trained folks working at dominant international publications, are the ones who spearheaded this media fiasco.
After the Botox Mom story appeared in the British tabloid, other news outlets dove headfirst into the Upton story based on the perceived abuse of a child by a parent emulating the same moral wrong-doing depicted in today’s reality TV shows.
This event united us in a chorus of disapproval and was cause for scrutiny, gossip, the subject of numerous parenting blogs, and became worthy of front page news without the slightest concern for the veracity of the story, the protagonists or us, the duped public.
“The article was published in good faith, in common with a large number of other news organizations around the world, after being received in full from a reputable UK news agency,” a spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune.
Credible sources or not, all it took for this dubious account to be seared into people’s minds was our familiarity with children’s pageants (wonder how we know this, TLC?), and the sheep mentality of major news providers anxious to increase readership and viewers.
Trusted media outlets were quick to pounce on this story and published information that could potentially harm this child.
Now the storyline has changed, and after CPS removed and later returned the girl reporters, publications and networks are backpedaling and swiftly denying any association in propagating unverifiable information.
In the past, content from publications like The Sun was to be taken with a huge grain of salt. With the onset of Hollywood’s distorted reality TV trend, the lines between real and reality-TV based journalism are beginning to blur with devastating results for children caught in the cross fire.
Yes, this mother was stupid for thinking she’d make a quick $200 by selling her (made-up?) story involving her child.
If her story turns out to be true -- and for the little girl’s sake let’s hope it really is just a hoax -- this ill-advised mom will get what is coming to her for allowing greed to cloud her better judgment.
Do the media have anything to fear? They should. The reporters responsible for fabricating breaking this story should be excoriated for standing by as a child was made to suffer under their watch (presumably while they photographed her in agony) for their own benefit.
Unfortunately, our obsession with celebrity, fame and quick fortunes makes it necessary to point out things reality TV instigates so these foolish incidents don’t become common. On the contrary, ridiculous antics like this one (if factual) should make the news precisely so they don’t become commonplace.
However, obtaining ratings, selling newspapers or trying to get your fifteen minutes of fame at the expense of an innocent child is unconscionable.
Based on this latest media firestorm the lesson that should resonate with everyone is this: the industry does not have anyone’s best interest at heart, only their pocketbooks.
I hope this chapter of reality-TV journalism has a better ending for the youngster than the previous installment, and that the masterminds who hatch these botched news jobs think twice before using a child for their own gain again.