Today, a teenage boy asked Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton to prom via YouTube. Of course he did.
Whether it’s Mila Kunis or Betty White or Justin Timberlake or Upton, asking A-listers to dances via the internet has become as much of an irritating web meme as, say, “Harlem Shake” or “Gangnam Style.” Just like those two viral crazes, what was once charming and cute and easy to gush about and silly fun is now tiresome and expired. Oppa enough already.
That’s not to say that this boy’s proposal isn’t adorable. In fact, if we’re talking modern crazes, you may even call it “adorkable.” A high school senior in Los Angeles, Jake Davidson is, as he describes in his high-register, nasally voice, “Jewish, 5’9” on a really good day, and I can’t dance. At all.” Upton, he points out, is “Christian, 5’10,” and the star of a “Cat Daddy” dance video so captivating it “should’ve won an Oscar for best short film.” Wryly self-deprecating, he deadpans (while shaving his already baby-smooth face, “You could say this is destiny.”
Other scenes meant to impress the supermodel find Davidson listing the things they have in common—she’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated, he reads it—while doing push-ups and showing off his body in the shower, presumably to impress Upton. “We can ride along all night long—‘til 11. That’s my curfew,” he says, before getting on bended knee while holding a dozen roses to invite her to his prom.
Upton already tweeted that she’s game, “How could I turn down that video! I’ll check my schedule.” Typically, such a good-natured display of support for her fans and willingness to be categorically non-diva-ish—what could be less glamorous for a millionaire supermodel than a high school prom?—would inspire all kinds of internet geeking out over how cool that celebrity is for being willing to grant this charmingly optimistic boy his wish. The thing is, however, we’re tired of geeking out about it. Now, it’s just annoying.
In 2011, the world swooned when Justin Timberlake accepted U.S. Marine Cpl. Kelsey DeSantis’s YouTube invitation to attend the Marine Corps Birthday Ball with her in Richmond, Virginia. Mila Kunis scored just as many cool points when she attended the Marine Corp Ball in Greenville, North Carolina with a fan. Then the floodgates opened.
Sure, each request was a genuine display of affection towards the star being asked, and some were even heartwarming. But there were just. So. Many. Betty White was asked out to a Marine Ball. Taylor Swift was invited to prom by a high schooler with leukemia, but instead asked him to accompany her to the Academy of Country Music Awards because she couldn’t attend. (His illness prevented him from going.) A 17-year-old’s “One Less Lonely Prom” video extended a school dance invite to Justin Bieber. Nick Jonas also received a personalized invite set to music.
Once upon a time, “she’s (or he’s) out of my league” was a resigned notion. Now it’s become a dare. The challenge is to create a YouTube invite so charming that it will go viral and catch the celebrity paramour’s attention. It’s almost genius—so much good will is funneled towards the wide-eyed teen behind the video that the celebrity couldn’t possibly say no without risking a damanged reputation. At the very least, he or she is required to muster an easily verifiable “my schedule won’t allow it” excuse.
Even Kunis alluded to this when she was asked to attend a wedding by a fish-out-of-water BBC interviewer. Well aware that she’s risking the reputation of once-go-to-the-ball, always-go-to-the-ball, she shrugs, “Well, I’ve gone to a Marine Ball, so what’s another. Apparently, I say yes to everything when put on the spot.” But then, when informed the wedding is June, that perfect excuse: “I’m actually working.”
Her good-natured frustration—but frustration nonetheless—is understandable. The social media/viral age makes people “feel entitled” to ask out celebrities, says Christine Monnier, professor of sociology at College of DuPage. “Social networking platforms have a leveling effect and tend to make hierarchies disappear. They are only one link away from that celebrity.”
Why risk the lonely humiliation of being rejected by the head cheerleader at her locker when you could have millions of Twitter users rally around you and the hot date of your dreams—especially if that hot date is a supermodel?
Hopefully, Upton does make time in her schedule to attend this prom, and with all luck Davidson gets to feel like a stud for the day. But once this unlikely couple is done grooving to "Last Dance,” can we please call a moratorium on YouTube prom invitations? They’re as played out as that song.