John Green wrote an article for the Washington Post called "Why We Should Get Rid of the Prom." Okay, before I get to discussing it, can I just say that I would be fascinated to know how the Washington Post, John Green, and "the prom" came together for an article. Kind of like, why is John Green giving dating advice on Seventeen.com?
Anyway, I agree with some of JG's points about the ridiculousness of prom. It's unnecessarily expensive. It brings all kinds of unnecessary drama with it (which I'm seeing lots of in the library right now). It puts pressure on teens to get dates and/or spend lots of money. Supposedly there is an expectation of having sex/losing your virginity on prom night, but I never personally experienced that as a teen or as a teacher observer/mentor. I also don't know that I know anyone who had a really good prom. Myself, I went with a friend from another school who wasn't allowed to leave his county to go to the after-prom party with me because while he was getting my corsage at the florist, two guys came over to buy pot from him and when he wasn't there, they let themselves in and set off his house alarm. The police came and found drug paraphernalia. Then he was smoking pot on the way to the prom and we didn't dance a single dance together.* All my girlfriends I went with ditched or were ditched by their dates by the time we got to the after-prom party at school. One of my college friends came home from prom to find her dog had ripped out all the stitches from her surgery and was dripping blood all over the house. She had to take her to the emergency vet clinic in her prom dress.
However, I think there is something to be said for prom. It's fun to get dressed up. Sure, you could do this for some other event of your own making, but parents are less likely to foot the (usually very expensive!) bill for it. Plus, there just aren't as many opportunities or places to go. (And in this economy, do you really want to be responsible for telling people to spend less? Think about the hotel workers, DJs, dress shops, hair salons, etc. that depend on prom revenue!) Prom also has a mythical quality to it. Whether good or bad, you always have your prom stories. I mean, that is one of my best high school stories now. The number of books related to prom can attest to this: Prom, Prom Nights From Hell, etc.
Seems to me you can always just not go to prom if you agree with John Green, or if your agreement with him outweighs the pros of prom.
* Postscript: Now we're friends on Facebook!