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Kids, Please Stop Making These Celebrity “Promposal” Videos

You're making the grown-ups uncomfortable.

A few years ago, a high school student publicly invited Miley Cyrus to go to prom with him. When the invitation video went viral, Cyrus responded by declining the offer, but she did invite him to her concert and once there, serenaded him on stage. And in the process, this kid inspired high school boys everywhere to invite their celebrity crushes to prom for years to come.

The latest celebrity “promposal” is from Jacob Staudenmaier, a high school junior from Phoenix, Arizona, who recreated the opening number from La La Land to invite Emma Stone (also from Phoenix) to his dance. The video has gotten a lot of attention, with tens of thousands of likes on Twitter and over 150,000 views on YouTube. Staudenmaier’s spent the last few days giving interviews, after the internet fell in love with his invitation.

Because the internet really loves praising teenage boys for putting uninvited, very public, romantic attention and pressure on grown woman strangers.

The general consensus in the coverage of this boy is that it’s “adorable.” And while I couldn’t agree less, I do think a lot of what he’s accomplished is impressive. He rewrote the lyrics to the song (including a nod at the resemblance he bears to Ryan Gosling), and tightly choreographed and directed the video. But every time I see an outlet say they’re crossing their fingers for Staudenmaier to get a yes from Emma Stone, I can’t help but simultaneously cringe and gag. That goes double for Olive Garden’s enthusiasm for hosting a woman’s romantic dinner date with a teenager.

These over-the-top public prom invitations have become a growing trend over the last few years, with much of the event’s importance placed on flash mobs and YouTube views. CNN and the New York Times have both written about their awkwardness and the pressure these elaborate invitations place on the invitee. The invitee (traditionally and still most often in these videos, that’s a young woman) might struggle with a genuine reaction because there’s an expectation that the person doing the inviting has earned her acceptance, gratitude, and romantic interest.

All of that discomfort is then exacerbated when the person asked is not just a total stranger, but a grown woman in the public eye. If regular women and girls feel an expectation to be gracious and accept this kind of offer, it must be a PR landmine for a young Hollywood actress, having to promote a constant image of ever-likable cool girl.

When a teenager invited Daisy Ridley to prom in a similar video last year, we praised her reaction for being “classy and awesome.” She responded that the video made her day, and she appeared genuinely flattered. Hopefully she was, but like with so many phenomena that affect women on a wide scale, it’s unfair to hold any other woman or girl to one individual’s reaction. If this invitation creeps Emma Stone out, does it make her less cool or gracious than Daisy Ridley? Maybe she’ll think it’s funny, or flattering.

However Emma Stone reacts, or any celebrity in a similar position, it doesn’t change the fact that I will never understand why so many people feel so supportive of a boy publicly asking a famous woman to slow dance and eat breadsticks with him.

(image: screengrab)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.