submitted 3 weeks ago by FookReddit69@lemm.ee to c/asklemmy@lemmy.ml

I just don't get it... Why is that important, especially for kids now, that feel like they need to do a YouTube video asking for a date or doing some meme stuff. Some teens even hire the hottest celebrity or ask them to appear in their prom? This is so bizarre for me, all that just for a frivolous night.

In my country prom was a thing but nowhere near as theatrical, I didn't went to either my prom trip or the party. Also skipped half of my middle school trips.

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[-] ThisIsAManWhoKnowsHowToGling@lemmy.dbzer0.com 188 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

The main thing is that prom didn't start to become big until the 1950s. This was a high water mark for conservatism in the U.S., and in order to go on any date ~~at least one parent, usually the girl's dad, had to be present~~ I have been corrected that this is reductive. Chaperoning was still commonish in this time period, depending on your area, but the 50s dating scene was beginning to look somewhat similar to what we have today with a guy picking up a girl in his car to go somewhere. Dancing would have been an uncommon activity because of how "adult" it was seen to be, so for horny teens Homecoming and Prom were a big deal. The biggest thing you notice looking at the dances of this time period is that the dresses are relatively simple, because it really wasn't that big of a deal back then. It was literally just a school dance, organized and overseen by the teachers and school staff.

Then, those kids grew up, had kids of their own, started making movies, and on doing so impressed on the following generation that homecoming and prom were the most fun nights in all of high school. This created pressure to make your proms and homecomings be as cool as the ones your parents told you about. This led to a lot more effort being put in. Dresses got way more expensive, tuxes became pretty much mandatory, guys began doing elaborate prom-posals.

This created a big economic opening in the market. Somebody needs to make colorful dresses for the girls and tuxes for the guys. The wedding industry immediately took over this area, and homecoming and prom became rush time for that industry. Somebody needs to play music. Back in the 50s they would hire bands, but by the 70s and 80 we started getting disc jockeys and now the party dj industry is fully enmeshed in high school dances. Then there's the decorations, which became themeing, which feeds into the party industry.

Now you have the cultural snowball rolling downhill, building up speed, slowly getting bigger. It is encouraged by a growing industry that advertises to teens how cool their prom will be if they just wear this dress, and then social media happened. Now teens are advertising prom to each other, and feeling they need to be better than that TikTok they saw earlier, so the social pressure to have the coolest prom ever is more ubiquitous that it has ever been.

[-] ieightpi@lemmy.world 37 points 3 weeks ago

We really are in our "let them eat cake" era

[-] FookReddit69@lemm.ee 18 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

👍🏽 thank you

[-] NABDad@lemmy.world 16 points 3 weeks ago

the 1950s. This was a high water mark for conservatism in the U.S., and in order to go on any date at least one parent, usually the girl's dad, had to be present.

Perhaps this was a regional thing.

I was born in 1970, but from what my parents have described, dates were not chaperoned in the 50s unless you happened to have particularly strict parents. Like maybe if you were Amish or something.

Here's the only thing I was able to find online about dating in the 50's


Thanks. Gonna edit my comment since another commenter said he was going to save my comment to copy-paste later if it becomes relevant. I dont want to spread misinformation.

[-] blindsight@beehaw.org 6 points 3 weeks ago

Thoroughly explained and well supported. I want to save this in case this topic ever comes up again so I can copy-pasta this.

[-] psud@aussie.zone 3 points 3 weeks ago

Funny, in Australia we have school dances and they don't get anything like American proms, with the possible exception of girls' debutante balls which we dress up for

[-] queermunist@lemmy.ml 72 points 3 weeks ago

A school dance isn't just a date, it's a social event. The US doesn't really have a lot of public social rituals, so a school dance is a unique kind of social experience that doesn't really exist outside of school. It probably wasn't as big when there were town festivals and church holiday events where everyone knew each other, but over time the school dances have become the only thing left.

[-] sproid@lemmy.ml 33 points 3 weeks ago

Can someone explain me [ X country] obsession with [ X celebration] and similar [location] rituals? Why do different cultures have their respective rituals? Why do some people prioritize certain values and act on them? Is having more reasons to celebrate life a bad or good thing?

[-] tetris11@lemmy.ml 5 points 3 weeks ago

Nah, I think it's more; "as someone who consumes 90% of culture X, and gets 90% of the X references, what is the significance of this 10% X reference which has no analog in my native culture?"

[-] Rai@lemmy.dbzer0.com 4 points 3 weeks ago

based and human nature-pilled

[-] Melatonin@lemmy.dbzer0.com 32 points 3 weeks ago

The USA is what we call the Great American Melting Pot. A bunch of cultures stripped of their cultural practices as much as possible.

It means we have very little in the way of innate cultural practices. Which is why we cling to things like sports, fast food, pop music, (much of which isn't ours, but anyway), military celebrations; because we're desperately trying to find ceremonial right of passage/cultural identity. We are a blank slate.

We don't have a quince, we don't have a bat mitzvah, we have prom. It's stupid, but it's ours.

[-] ArcaneSlime@lemmy.dbzer0.com 6 points 3 weeks ago

Tbf, being a melting pot also means all those cultures impact and influence "ours." Plenty of Americans have bat mitzvahs, for instance, of course they'd be particularly the ones that are Jewish, but plenty of Americans also observe Ramadan. We have a lack of cohesive culture because we're not just one cohesive "people," yet we all are under the banner of "American."

Our country is a melting pot, and so "our culture" is too, made up of pieces immigrants have brought with them from everywhere in the world. I think it's pretty cool, personally.

[-] Melatonin@lemmy.dbzer0.com 5 points 3 weeks ago

"God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives, we've been all raised by television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won't and we're slowly learning that fact. and we're very very pissed off."

-Tyler Durden

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[-] sunbeam60@lemmy.one 4 points 3 weeks ago

Tbf that’s a better explanation than any other I’ve heard.

[-] Surp@lemmy.world 3 points 3 weeks ago

I disagree we have everything that everyone has because we have everyone living here it's just celebrated by whoever wants to celebrate what. Stop making it sound like a couple hundred year old country doesn't have ceremonies we cherish.

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[-] ColeSloth@discuss.tchncs.de 32 points 3 weeks ago

That's like asking why people celebrate holidays.

That's all it is. It's a holiday that's just for teens.

[-] walden@sub.wetshaving.social 25 points 3 weeks ago

I would separate the two -- Prom isn't necessarily theatrical in nature. It's usually the first time a teen gets to dress up and do something special with friends, but the type of thing you're seeing sounds like pretty typical "lets see if I can go viral" narcissistic behavior.

I haven't seen anything like what you're talking about, but Prom isn't the only target of this type of thing.

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[-] sunbrrnslapper@lemmy.world 16 points 3 weeks ago

Prom is part of the culture and teenage experience here. Some people are more into it than others. It's ok not to totally understand or like it. I'm sure there are things that we don't understand about other places too.

[-] NABDad@lemmy.world 15 points 3 weeks ago

I think it's important to remember that the USA isn't a single culture. Things vary dramatically even within a single state to say nothing of differences between states.

In some areas prom is very important. In others, not so much.

Only one of my three kids went to prom (Eastern PA).

Prom in my high school was a relatively big deal. You rented a tux or bought a dress. Some people would rent a limo. The prom was held in some kind of banquet hall with a fairly fancy meal. There'd be a DJ and dancing.

My wife was one year behind me in high school, and we attended FOUR proms (my junior prom, then the next year her junior prom and my senior prom, then the next year I came back for her senior prom).

I think for most people it's just an opportunity to get dressed up, have a good meal, and dance. If you're already dating someone, it obviously has more significance, but I had plenty of friends who just took another friend as a date for the prom and others who didn't go with anyone. However, there was a lot of pressure to be a "couple", even if you weren't actually romantically involved with your "date".

Typically the parents take pictures of the kids in their dresses and tuxedos. From the parents' point of view, it's a moment to sort of take note of how your kids are maturing and think about what the future holds for them. Lots of thinking about how old you are ;-)

Often there's an after party that goes on late into the morning, and for many kids the after party is more important than the prom.

I think social media has had an effect on what prom is, but it also has the effect of distorting what it is to people who only experience it remotely. When you're seeing the crazy YouTube videos and Instagram posts, you're not seeing what prom is. You're seeing a snapshot of what those particular proms are.

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[-] AndrasKrigare@beehaw.org 14 points 3 weeks ago

I'm just going to throw out that if your understanding of US prom is based off of movies and videos people make to try and get views, that doesn't match reality. For mine, it was fun to dress up and dance, but I knew plenty of people who didn't go, and plenty who went without dates. And there was no prom queen or king or anything.

[-] Bytemeister@lemmy.world 12 points 3 weeks ago

You're only seeing the most outrageous edge cases. It's a weird kind of survivorship bias.

Prom was kinda like graduation to me. It's a school event, I mostly went because it was important to someone else, and it's a very common and relatable event in American life. All in, it was a waste of 50 bucks and a few good hours of gaming/relaxing with my GF.

[-] kevincox@lemmy.ml 10 points 3 weeks ago

Prom is fun. You get to hang out with all of your classmates, ask someone out. A subset of people are always going to go overboard, but keep in mind that you don't see the "normal" cases. Most people just walk up to someone and ask them out. They find a date from the school or go alone.

I'm from Canada so I don't know if the US is wildly different, but here it is a bit of a big deal, but I think part of that is what makes it fun, you sort of build a bit of hype around what would otherwise be just another school dance.

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[-] Pulptastic@midwest.social 9 points 3 weeks ago

Have you seen all those high school movies? The US is obsessed with high school. I guess prom is just part of that.

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[-] originalucifer@moist.catsweat.com 9 points 3 weeks ago

prom used to be an event where young adults get to actually act as adults in an adult setting.

unfortunately, the Infantilization of the unites states youth has turned this into something of a farce. its clearly backpeddled into child-fantasy land.

high school kids used to be given actual responsibilities, and treated like young adults.... open campuses, student governments that could affect actual change. that is no longer the case.

[-] retrospectology@lemmy.world 9 points 3 weeks ago

It's sort of a first step into adulthood and just a way of marking a coming of age threshold as people head out into the wider world.

Most proms aren't that crazy, I think the real thing you're noticing is more the distorting effecf social media can have on any cultural tradition or practice. You're seeing people who would go overboard about anything they thought might get them attention. Kind of like people who have insane weddings, the majority of people still have totally normal weddings for the most part.

[-] bionicjoey@lemmy.ca 7 points 3 weeks ago

Yeah it's important to remember that social media has a distorting effect and shouldn't be confused for reality. The things you see on social media have passed a certain filter. Namely that the person sharing it believed it ought to be shared. This alone means that viewing the world through social media will hide a lot of the mundanity and normality that actually is out there all around us.

[-] TubularTittyFrog@lemmy.world 5 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

most proms are held in a the gym with a shitty dj and shitty catered food. but you're not gonna see that portrayed in media. parents drop them off, there are no limos.

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[-] son_named_bort@lemmy.world 7 points 3 weeks ago

For a lot of high school seniors, prom is the last big event before graduation. It's an event where you can hang out with a lot of your classmates away from school and parents and such. There aren't too many opportunities to just hang out for a lot of teens, what with the homework and extra curricular activities and such occupying a lot of their free time. That being said, it's not uncommon for people to skip the prom and some schools make it a bigger deal than others.

[-] doggle@lemmy.dbzer0.com 7 points 3 weeks ago

There's also a lot of variance within the US. In some towns prom is huge. In my home town it wasn't as much. Many students elected not to go at all.

[-] turkalino@lemmy.yachts 7 points 3 weeks ago

Proms were around for ~50 years before we started seeing "promposals", where guys would ask girls out with 3 minute-long choreographed dances in the middle of the quad for the whole school to see & record for social media. I'm not saying it's stupid to put effort into asking someone, it can definitely be cute, but it can also be ultra cringe if you take it too far

[-] HubertManne@moist.catsweat.com 6 points 3 weeks ago

Most US kids skip prom as well but there is a lot of pressure to go and have someone to bring. Honestly its not as big a thing as TV/movies makes it.

[-] ClassifiedPancake@discuss.tchncs.de 5 points 3 weeks ago* (last edited 3 weeks ago)

In Germany we have this stupid tradition with Maibäume (Maypole) were young people carry a tree around and place it in front of the house of their beloved ones. The bigger the tree the better.

[-] Stovetop@lemmy.world 4 points 3 weeks ago

I don't know, why do Japanese schools have culture festivals? Is it not enough to say that some countries have different cultural norms and traditions?

[-] d00phy@lemmy.world 4 points 3 weeks ago

You think prom is weird. Do an image search for Texas homecoming mums.

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this post was submitted on 20 Jun 2024
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