It is nothing new to note the paradox at the heart of our obsession with celebrity and pop culture, in so far as the objects of our desire, the faces who fill our thoughts and cover our screens and magazines, often times we’re quick to say we can hardly bear.
Whatever your taste or inclination, whether it’s Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, or the black guy who does science and often tweets, we click and stare and stare and click and flip pages frantically and fidget ourselves almost to the point of oblivion, only like the Apostle Peter to renounce in public then at leisure lament.
Do we like celebrities or don’t we? But celebrities too have it tough. When they’re not jet-setting around the world in their skimpiest bikinis or cruising down Hollywood Boulevard taking their pick from a fine choice of broads, they too inhabit a paradox. Because as much as we presume they live lives of paradisiacal perfection, surfeited with food and entertainment and travel and goodie bags as far as the eye can see, they also live in a curious sort of isolation, and for female celebrities in particular, global warming comes a distant second compared to the current climate of fear.
What is making female celebrities so scared right now? It is not the burgeoning group of do-nothing Instagram models, systemic oppression, or nudie pictures hacked off phones. Instead it is the importunate demands of high school students, who believe it’s just fine and dandy to invite their illustrious elders to prom.
Mila Kunis set an early precedent, when the Black Swan star escorted Sgt. Scott Moore to a United States Marine Corps Ball. The ball took place in Greenville, North Carolina, but the marine had only recently returned from a stint in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and before you start thinking that sympathy bound Kunis to agree to the date, note that Moore had the cheek to return from combat with all of his limbs firmly intact.
At least Moore was of age and by experience a handy dancer, but a wave of copycat invitations swiftly ensued. And it wasn’t long before the trend transitioned from the realm of warfare to education, seized upon by overly aspiring youngsters, with their wide eyes and sweaty palms.
Earlier this year, a Super Bowl bet left tennis starlet Eugenie Bouchard in hot water, as she was compelled to go on a date with 20-year-old-student John Goehrke. The sordid nature of such ordeals is exacerbated by the fact that the proposers often aren’t half bad looking: acne-covered geeks may be ghastly to look at, but at least they have the good sense not to ask.
The phenomenon straddles the worlds of film, music, and sport, but when does the straddling become too vigorous and when must we put an end to this dubious and presumptuous fun? Now Emma Stone has been invited to prom by 17-year-old Arizonian Jacob Staudenmaier, who couched his invite in a song-and-dance routine drawn from Stone’s hit-film La La Land, recreating with new lyrics the musical’s opening number ‘Another Day of Sun’.
Comparing himself to Ryan Gosling, in the video invite Staudenmaier wasn’t afraid to get lewd. Pleading ‘Please don’t let me down’, he adds ‘I’ll see your face and think of how I got so lucky’, suggesting more crudely still, ‘Emma Stone if you came, I think I’d lose it, go insane’, a conceited hope from one so young.
The acclaimed 28-year-old actress swiftly declined, citing a busy shooting schedule in London, but Staudenmaier had won his moment in the spotlight by impinging on her fame. Sometimes don’t you know celebrities are quiet people, who find expression in their art which bears no resemblance to their private lives. And remember, ‘Another Day of Sun’ in La La Land is a festival of extras: like Gosling, Stone bemoans the traffic and remains fixed inside of her car.