Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d like us and the readers to answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s question comes from contributor Caroline Siede:
What pop-culture prom would you want to attend?
I came of age in the early ’00s, which means my senior prom was filled with people bumping and grinding to songs by Lil Wayne and Fergie. Given that I’ve always felt I was born in the wrong decade, I would have much rather spent my prom dancing the Charleston with George Bailey than trying to remember the moves to “Crank That (Soulja Boy).” The graduation dance in It’s A Wonderful Life features all the old-timey charms my own prom was missing. Not only do the students apparently bring their own pies—a phenomenal idea if I ever heard one—there’s also a live orchestra, a dance contest, and a whole lot of patriotic bunting. Plus, there’s always the chance a prankster will open up the floorboards to reveal a secret swimming pool and introduce just the right amount of harmless shenanigans to make the night memorable. Perhaps most importantly, the dance also marks the start of the beautiful relationship between Jimmy Stewart’s character and Donna Reed’s character. And, like Mary Hatch before me, I’m pretty sure I’ll love George Bailey until the day I die.
I’m all over Footloose on this one. When Kevin Bacon dons a bow tie and yells, “Let’s daaaaance!” I want to shimmy and shake like I’ve been oppressed by Bible-thumping parents for far too long and the freedom of expression is almost too much to handle. I want to kick off my Sunday shoes like Kenny Loggins encourages and tear that barn up. I would hoot and holler with the best of them while the confetti flies, no one giving a damn about social politics and royal coronations as we all unabashedly bust out the moves we’ve been practicing for weeks. What’s this? Now everyone is sort of skipping across the dance floor? Count me in! And who’s that guy tugging on his suspenders—he’s sort of cute. I’m turning it loose!
I had a fine enough time at my own prom, but you know what would have made it better? Costumes. That’s why I’m going with the prom from Never Been Kissed. While I’m obviously not down with the whole “dog food getting dumped on nerds” thing, the “Meant For Each Other” prom seems classy, fun, and relatively romantic, if you’re into high school guys wearing swords or teachers who obviously don’t care about age-of-consent laws. And while the idea of three different popular girls dressing as Barbie is definitely worth an eye roll, I like the idea that prom—at least in this case, or in the case of most movies—could turn into a dramatic event for a whole student body, with Drew Barrymore’s Josie Geller using her crowning as queen to reveal her role as an undercover journalist and point out the incredibly irrational social hierarchies present at South Glen South High. Plus, the DJ played The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want,” and that song is great.
I haven’t even seen all of Carrie, but dude, that’s my prom. I skipped my own prom because I determined I was too cool for high school (when the reality was that high school was far, far too cool for me). Poor Carrie’s insane telekinetic inferno sounds pretty much like what I would have done if I’d been subjected to pig’s blood onstage. Hopefully I would have been a little less Carrie and a little more Sue Snell, who manages to survive by repenting for her sins or something. But I don’t know—if you absolutely must go to prom, at least know you have the option to burn it all down.
Laura M. Browning
Like other A.V. Clubbers, I also skipped prom, but maybe I’d have gone if I’d gotten to save the world first. Near the end of season three in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies find out that one of their classmates, spurned by his hopeful prom date, has gotten his hands on some hellhounds, which he has trained to attack people in formal wear. Buffy finds the guy, kills the hellhounds, and still has time to change into her prom dress. But more than providing an opportunity to kick some ass, “The Prom” hits a sweet note, without going too saccharine, when Jonathan gives Buffy the “Class Protector” award, noting that the Sunnydale Class Of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate in school history. Maybe I’m just a sucker for that kind of thing, or maybe it’s because I know that if I’d gone to prom, I’d’ve been a total wallflower—so might as well use the opportunity to make my cold dark heart go momentarily warm. And kill some bad guys.
As I didn’t even attend my real prom, instead opting to go see World Party in concert, I have to be honest and admit that the only reason I’d want to attend a fictitious prom is if the music made it worthwhile, so I’m going with the one in The Brady Bunch Movie. While much of the film underlines how out of step the Bradys are with present-day pop culture, the prom scene goes in a different direction, taking a memorable plotline from the original sitcom—Marcia’s love of former Monkees singer Davy Jones—and, rather than ridiculing that adoration as being hopelessly out of touch, instead uses it to spotlight the fact that within every adult lies a former teenager who still has a soft spot for the stuff they loved when they were growing up. Or, hell, maybe that’s not what they were going for at all. All I know is that I’d love to be in that crowd and feel the kids shifting from utter indifference about an aging teen idol to legitimate admiration of a guy who knows how to belt out a tune and, with the help of a grungy backing band, can still work an audience into a frenzy.
It was fun to dress up and go out with friends, but prom isn’t something I’d really like to do again. If I had to, however, I could see enjoying prom in The O.C.—season two, that is, not season three—specifically “The O.Sea,” an ocean-themed prom at a school with a serious budget. My prom wasn’t nearly eventful enough, so the Cohen family circle (including Cal, dying of a heart attack, and George Lucas, moping about not attending his own prom) would make up for that in spades. As in the penultimate episode of the season, I assume I’d be written into some serious melodrama myself. But mostly I’d want good music. To have O.C. soundtrack guru Alexandra Patsavas as our authorial DJ is more than enough enticement to go to prom again.