You Don't Have To Go To Prom! Jason Shapiro

This weekend, teens across America will appease the ancient giants that live below the earth by taking part in the old and mysterious ritual of prom.  There will be formal wear, punch bowls, a cheesy principal or two and a room full of stress and expectation.  Millions will attend but the majority of attendees will report that they had “just an okay time” and will probably forget about the “whatever” evening in the near future.   Sure prom is fun….but it’s not that much fun, and the negatives definitely outweigh the positives.   It’s like a mediocre Bar Mitzvah party or Quinceanera with unachievable expectations.  Did I mention disappointment?  Prom is just plain overrated.  It’s hyped as the culmination of your teenage years and then you get there and there are no fireworks, no choreographed dance numbers, no fairy tale transformations – just some weirdo band and your same old friends who are all freaking out.  I remember hearing someone at my prom say, “Everything has to be perfect or… I don’t know what, but it just has to.”  Well, you heard it here first:  You don’t have to go.  Skip it.  You’ll be just fine, I swear.  Oh, you need proof?

These Awesome People Didn’t Go to Prom and Are Doing Great

Miley Cyrus didn’t go to her prom and she still got to party in the USA (and other countries, probably).   Miley is a self-made millionaire and she was too busy writing classic jams and making classic flicks to worry about some school dance.  While her classmates were awkwardly standing in circles, nervously blinking way too many times and sweating through their rented formal attire, Miley was shooting the movie The Last Song, where she met her current boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth.  What I’m trying to say is, if you don’t go to prom you have a very good chance of meeting and falling in love with Liam Hemsworth.  Sold?

What about pop icon Madonna?  She probably went to prom, right? She probably killed it at prom.  She was probably prom queen and got to sing an awesome song while her thousands of friends cheered and had the best night of their lives, right?  Nope.  Madonna couldn’t even get a date to prom.  She claims that instead of going, she sat at home alone.  Read that back.  Madonna said that.  That same lady has sold millions and millions of records and even in her 50s, could definitely beat me in arm wrestling.

Bristol Palin didn’t go to her prom and she’s great, right?  Right?  I’ll try to think of a different example…

James Franco!  He’s one of the coolest people in the world.  Actor, director, weirdo, etc. – he’s great.  James didn’t go to his prom because he had better, cooler things to do.  I can guarantee that when James Franco was sitting in his Spiderman 3 trailer, he wasn’t thinking about what his prom would have been like.  He was most likely counting his millions of dollars or reading comments from his Facebook fan page.  Be like James Franco and skip your prom so that you can be cool and host the Oscars and do a ton of other weird stuff that will keep people talking about you.

Proms Can Go Horribly Wrong

This part is not meant to scare you out of going to prom, it’s more of a, “ You’re not going? Oh hey, good choice.”

A few years ago I saw this documentary called Carrie.  Basically, Carrie was bullied at school and didn’t have a lot of friends and then somehow gained telekinetic powers.  Makes sense.  Then all these jerks voted her prom queen as a joke and when she accepted the crown they poured pig’s blood on her.  So unchill. Well, the jerks got their comeuppance and then some when Carrie used her powers to burn down the school.  Also kinda unchill.  It was one of the scarier documentaries I’ve ever seen, but I definitely plan on showing it to my kids when they are deciding if they want to go to prom or not.

Carrie took place in the freaky-deaky ’70s, though, so this is definitely not gonna happen at any of your proms, but there are MANY other reasons not to go:

  • Your date will be nervous
  • Your date will smell
  • They’ll just be playing ‘We are Young’ by fun. on loop
  • There are always those dudes that think it would be awesome to get a top hat and cane – avoid the inevitable cane/sword fights
  • You’ll avoid grinding (some of my worst memories involve grinding)
  • Save yourself some money
  • You might be part of some elaborate bet to see if someone could turn you into prom king/queen
  • Proms are wasteful and bad for the environment (I have no concrete evidence but I’m sure they are)
  • It’s cliche to go to prom
  • People always get left out during prom season
  • Why would you want to hang out at your school on a weekend?
  • There might be undercover cops there
  • There might be undercover reporters  (Watch the documentary Never Been Kissed)
  • Every high school’s prom theme is the same: “A Night Under the Stars”
  • Too much work
  • They livestream all proms online now so your parents will probably be watching
  • Kobe Bryant and Brandy went to prom together and now they probably don’t even speak
  • Limos are stupid – There’s no magic, they are just long cars (or motorcycles)

There Are So Many Great Alternatives

So you’ve read this far, meaning that you’ve decided not to go to prom.  Awesome.  I love you for that. You’re the best around.  You’re making the right choice.  Now the question is, what kinds of awesome things can you do instead?

  • LITERALLY ANYTHING
  • Get a head start on college – read some Kurt Vonnegut, listen to some Bob Marley, watch Donnie Darko, form some strong opinions
  • Get to know your parents – they are a wealth of knowledge
  • See live music – find a new band in some dirty basement somewhere (those are usually the coolest shows to brag about)
  • Start your own band – what are you waiting for?
  • Write the novel/play/movie/TV pilot/song/blog that you’re always planning on doing but never do – Legend has it that Mark Twain wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn on the same night instead of going to his prom
  • Write angry letters to the band Fun. asking them to stop letting everyone use the song, “We Are Young”
  • Write a speech and give it to your dog
  • Challenge your best friend to a Pi eating contest and then decide what that means
  • Explore downtown – every city’s downtown is cool in some way
  • Write some funny Yelp reviews
  • Wear a dress or tuxedo by yourself – it will be hilarious, trust me
  • Throw a party and get everyone to skip prom – I tried to do that but my cousin was the only one who came

My cousin, Jime

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are cooler than prom.  When everyone is talking about it on Monday morning, pretending like it was awesome (people will be very scared  to admit that it wasn’t everything that they had hoped for), chuckle to yourself and say something like, “Oh… you went to that?”  I guarantee everyone will ask you what you did instead and pretty much anything you say will make you the COOLEST PERSON EVER.

One last thing: Don’t be a vocal H8er.  Prom is harmless so no need to rain on any parades.  Some people will have fun and some people won’t. It’s just not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, so don’t give it too much weight.  If you find yourself googling, “Did Obama go to prom?” just remember these words: who cares?

(Images via People.com, Teen.com, JokesInside.com, TheComposites.tumblr, LittleBowPrep.Blogspot.com and mlafilmstudies.blogspot.com.  Celebrity Prom info via DailyBeast.com)

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  1. Hahah, I think my prom’s theme was a Night Under the Stars and that was 10 years ago. I went with my best friend on a spur of the moment decision the day before. It is most definitely not as much fun as it is portrayed in movies. There are a few people who look like they are having fun, but most people look uncomfortable and are planning their escape route as soon as they walk in.

  2. Instead of going to prom, my friends and I rented a hotel in a beach town Fort Bragg, CA. We had a fabulous dinner, went to the beach and took pictures in “prom” dresses. Saw the horror movie ‘Prom Night’ and then went back to the hotel, dressed up like pirates, and finally watched Pirates of the Caribbean while getting drunk on sour apple vodka.

    Best. Prom. EVER.

  3. Thanks for writing this! I didn’t go to prom and I don’t understand the pressure to at all. It’ll probably turn out in some bad choices for most kids anyway.

  4. I didn’t go to a high school for my final year so there was no prom. I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway.

  5. I went to my senior “prom” (at a Lutheran HS we had to call it “spring formal” ?!) without a date, just a couple friends, who actually had dates, now that I think about it. My hair was pretty, my dress was hot (shocking, since I had recently begun to look like a teenager and not a preteen, I was a LATE bloomer), I took an awkward photo with my little brother who was also going to “spring formal.” I can’t really remember where we ate dinner or what we did after the dance. The dance itself was enjoyable, mostly because I took it upon myself to awkwardly grind on a couple people I didn’t know and act ridiculously childish with a friend.

    Since then, about 5 years later, I have thought of prom a handful of times. Since then, I have been to many cooler parties and “dances.” Rocking out sober to Party in the USA, Wagon Wheel and Family Tradition in the nasty basement of my boyfriend’s house during a fraternity was way more awesome than prom. So was the secret concert of an up & coming band, and about a thousand other things I’ve done since prom.

    Prom is way overrated. And, in my experience, the prettiest and most popular people in high school haven’t really accomplished much a few years later. For the girls (or guys) stressing about prom, forget it and get your other “lame” friends to go do something interesting. Seriously. If I hadn’t gone to prom I could have been spending more time with my beloved horse that I would have to sell several months later.

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