April 29, 2013 at 9:18 AM ET
Asking a date to prom takes more than guts these days. It also takes a creative mind and an imaginative pitch that can live forever in YouTube posterity.
As if being a teenager didn’t already come with enough anxiety.
Hundreds of videos online document the lengths high school students will go to secure a prom date these days.
“When you want to ask a date to prom, you want them to say ‘yes,’ so you try to think of the most, like, spontaneous, original ideas,” said Colton Chambers, a student at Pacific Palisades Charter High School in California.
"Original" describes classmate Jonathan Senn, who stripped down to a pair of gold lame booty shorts with the word “PROM” on them before entertaining (or embarrassing?) a potential date with a public twerk session.
“Actually, I thought it was really funny up until I decided to actually, like, ask her to prom,” he said in a TODAY segment that aired Monday.
But should we really encourage teens to make prom a bigger deal than it already is, with prom spending forecast to top $1,100 per family this year? Public spectacles certainly make it hard for a girl to say no to a potential suitor. As Pacific Palisades student Rachel Kelly tells TODAY, after a show like that, "You gotta say yes."
And expectations can be tough on boys, too.
Cleo Monrose of Pacific Palisades Charter High School turned down a suitor who failed to go big.
“It was just like, ‘So, do you wanna go to prom?’ And I was really like, ‘No. Like, we need to do that again,’” she said.
Some schools appear to encourage that behavior – or at least condone setting the bar high. Pacific Palisades Charter High School ran a contest offering the winner with the most popular video free prom tickets.
One person also applauding the trend is Vanessa Van Petten, a self-proclaimed “youthologist” who offers expertise on adolescents and parenting.
"Finally chivalry is coming back," she said. "They’re grand gestures, and so I really like that we're seeing boys [think] that romance is OK again.”
Of course, not all requests to prom are outrageous. Some are simply romantic.
Johann Piedras planned a treasure hunt for his girlfriend, Pilar Marin.
“I just really love her, so I wanted her to have something big and special,” he said.
His girlfriend apparently thought it was.
“It's just, like, what every girl dreams of on their senior year of high school,” she said.