It won't be the first time that balloon fetishism has been presented on national television. I know of at least two other segments, the most recent on Strange Sex. But when National Geographic does something, you expect a nice, straightforward, factual account.
But if the preview on NG's YouTube channel is any indication, the upcoming episode of "Taboo" will be the most sensationalized, and misleading, portrayal of balloon fetishism I've yet seen.
The preview features Dave from Arkansas, who doesn't pop his balloons or, according to Dave, have sex with them. I don't know if I'd even categorize that as "fetish," but who am I to split hairs. The fact is, I've managed to find out a bit more about Dave than that little clip; he has posted and commented on YouTube in the past.
He has strong feelings about popping balloons, but he comes across in his YouTube persona as a pretty nice guy, and no stranger than many other people I see on the Internet. In fact, a whole lot less strange than some.
But at the hands of the folks at National Geographic, he comes across as really, really creepy. Even the music they edit into the end of the segment makes him seem completely bizarre. This is just sensationalist crap, and unworthy of anything that bears the National Geographic name.
I am swayed toward the view expressed by Tim Popper in the afterword of his novel. He talks about there not really being a single balloon fetish, but a huge variety of fetishes that happen to involve balloons. And the more I see other balloon lovers talk about their particular likes and dislikes, the more I think that this is true.
Dave, as unfairly portrayed in this hideous video, does not represent the panoply of balloon fetishes. But then, no single one of us could. It's bad enough that people who know nothing about us write term papers and magazine articles. But to use the most blatant tricks of the motion picture trade to make us all look truly insane is beneath contempt.
And it makes me cringe even more to hear the term "looner."