Updated: March 26, 2013 7:48PM
That Kate Upton’s a real heartbreaker.
Or so we thought until Upton’s people said Upton hasn’t yet officially become a heartbreaker.
“Kate Upton breaks geeky high schooler’s heart, won’t attend prom,” is the headline from Fox News.
You know the story. One Jake Davidson, 17, a high school senior from Los Angeles, created a funny and endearing video in which he talks up his excellent hygiene, says he’s nearly Upton’s height, boasts they’ll be able to stay out until his 11 p.m. curfew and asks Upton (who’s all of 20) to his prom on May 23.
Boom! Viral Video Sensation No. 2,145 of the 21st century. As the video reached the seven-figure mark in YouTube views, Davidson found himself interviewed via satellite on the “Today” show, where Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb surprised him by taking a call from Upton.
“I definitely have to check schedules, but you seem like so much fun and if everything works out, I’d love to go with you,” said Upton. “I know we’d have a blast.”
Soon after I tweeted, “Kate Upton should say no to that kid who asked her to the prom. It’d be a good life lesson for everyone.”
About 50 percent of respondents agreed with me, while others thought I was being “bitter” and “mean.”
“Still upset Greta Garbo declined your offer,” tweeted one quipster, which I thought was pretty funny — though for the record, it was Cheryl Tiegs, and I asker her to prom via carrier pigeon.
Another tweep said, “Asking celebrities to prom has pretty much run its course, hasn’t it? Was cute, but now you’re just a [jerk].”
Indeed. We’ve had so many of these celebrity-dance invitations that I’m waiting for the next step in the meme: celebrities creating, “I’m not coming to the dance with you” videos.
When Justin Timberlake attended the Marine Corps Ball as a guest of Marine Cpl. Kelsey De Santis in November of 2011, it was a smile-inducing story. The video De Santis put together in July of that year was genuine, original, organic and just … wonderful. That Timberlake graciously accepted and cleared his schedule show up made it one of the terrific feel-good stories of the year.
But in this era of instant global awareness, we go from clever idea to viral video to much-copied trend to tiresome overkill in rapid fashion. Soon military dance invites were going out to everyone from Mila Kunis to Betty White to Playboy Playmates to Kristin Cavallari to Kim Kardashian.
Then came the prom and homecoming invitations.
A 16-year-old kid asked Justin Bieber to go to prom with him, “just as a bro.” Taylor Swift received multiple invites. A high schooler in Minnesota asked the Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio to prom.
Today’s celebrity isn’t all that much more accessible than the celebrity of a generation ago, but the illusion of accessibility has increased a hundredfold. You follow someone such as Rihanna on Twitter and Facebook, you see her personal photos on Instagram, you know all about her personal life — you think you’ve got a connection with her.
And hey, a number of these celebs have actually accepted invites to military balls or high school dances. No doubt they’re doing it out of the goodness of their hearts — and if there’s a little positive publicity as well, so be it.
But if you get a star to come to your dance, you’ve just turned your dance into a media event. And you’ve denied yourself the scary-exhilarating-awkward experience of asking someone you actually you know to the dance. (Not to mention disappointing that girl or boy in your class who was kinda hoping to get an invitation from you.)
On Tuesday, Upton’s people said despite reports to the contrary, she hasn’t yet declined the kid’s invitation. So now she’s leaving him twisting in the wind — which, come to think of it, isn’t that different from what a lot of high schoolers are experiencing right now as they await an answer from an invitee holding out for a better offer.
I can see the tweets and comments now: “Waaaah, Roeper says we should feel sorry for celebrities when some kid asks them to the prom. Waaaaah.”
No, I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for the rich-famous-adored-beautiful celeb who gets asked to the prom by the adorable-self-deprecating-regular person — but let’s be honest, these celebrities really don’t want to come to your prom, and now you’ve put them in the position of either having to attend or having to come up with a legitimate excuse that doesn’t make them sound like a callous heartbreaker.
On top of all that, it’s just played out. The gimmick has run its course.