Enough With Over-the-Top Proposals!

I just spent 27 minutes watching two complete strangers get engaged. On Youtube. I’m not kidding. 27 minutes.

Apparently, so have six million other people. If you’ve got half an hour to spare, knock yourself out.

If you don’t, here’s what you need to know – a young man proposed to a young woman. She cried. He cried. They hugged. They kissed. She said yes. Tale as old as time.

Except, can I go back to the 27 minutes and 6 million views?

This video has gone viral because it’s a proposal unlike any other proposal. And, brace yourselves for some killjoy: I don’t mean that in a good way. I don’t know if I could have dreamt up a more over-the-top proposal.

The guy manages to incorporate a radio interview, three homemade music videos, a homemade movie trailer and a flash mob into his proposal. And, of course, he filmed every last minute (and I mean every last minute) – professional video crews, Skype, hidden cameras and all. He then puts his work-of-art (I mean love?) on Youtube, so his creative genius and big romantic gesture can be seen by the whole wide world.

Seriously. What is happening? Am I the only one who thought this was a little . . . weird? And when did it become acceptable to turn an intimate, personal, incredibly important moment into a big, public, theatrical performance, one in which the more melodramatic and showy, the better.

Kayne West rented out a stadium and hired the Chicago Symphony to propose to Kim Kardashian. What’s an average bloke to do? Are theatrics like this becoming what’s expected?

Take this comment from the Youtube proposal video: “To my future fiancé, I am so sorry but nothing you ever come up with will compare to this.”

Or this one: “This made me cry! I wish to be proposed to like that someday.”

Or this one: “I hope I can find someone like him . . . funny, creative, and romantic!”

Gentlemen, you can thank guys like this when your future fiancé thinks your old-fashioned “dinner and roses proposal” doesn’t cut it.

The problem with trying to turn a marriage proposal into a wannabe Oscar performance is twofold: first, it turns a monumental moment into essentially a creativity competition, the root of which is vanity. (Did anyone notice how the video focuses almost exclusively on the guy making it? It’s not about her, or even them – it’s about him.)

But more importantly, it turns the focus away from the purpose of the proposal – marriage. Because guess what? The way a man proposes has nothing to do at all with love, commitment, loyalty, or longevity. I hate to bring up America’s 50% divorce rate, but in light of videos like this, I feel somewhat compelled. We can dream up brilliant, creative, unique ways to propose, but all the flash mobs and music videos in the world can’t save a marriage when it’s past this butterflies, pie-in-the-sky phase. If anything, all the hype and hoopla of an over-the-top proposal can distract from the serious, down-to-earth business of making sure that you are marrying the right person.

I like a good love story like everyone else. And there’s nothing wrong with putting time and thought into making a proposal feel special. But this “look at me I’m so creative and I love you so much but I want to see how many Youtube hits our engagement video got” craziness has got to stop.

My dad proposed to my mom quietly, privately, and simply over dinner. And they’re still together. And that’s a story you’ll never see on Youtube. So perhaps if people stopped associating anything like love or marriage with videos like this, that newly engaged couple might be up against better odds.

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  • Sarah Lentz

    I’d say this guy’s proposal was ripe for a parody, but it seems he did all he could to make the attempt at parody way too expensive for most people. If a guy proposed to me like that, it’d make me queasy, not just because of the excess but because of what it said about him and how certain he was of me. I never wanted a publicized proposal–nor did I want my fiancé to propose to me in front of his family. No man with class would put his fiancée on the spot like that. What if she’d said, “No,” burst into tears and ran off? I think I can already see the comments by women wishing they could have been in her place, and, to an extent, I can appreciate their wanting to be the supposed center of all that attention, but the real star of the show is the man who put it all together, and he knows it.

  • Sarah Lentz

    I’ll add that the way your parents proposed is more authentic and resonant in its ordinariness than the cult-of-extraordinary performance put on Kanye West and the latest YouTube sensation.

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  • Shane

    I frankly hate it when men bow down to propose to their girlfriends, much less do such an extravagant display simply to ask the question. For one thing, it’s narcissistic. Why must the world know or give a damn about your nuptials? This “princess treatment” of the woman also seems to clash with the imposed feminism on the post-war dying West. On the one hand women want to be considered just like men, but still have a childish desire to be treated as something so special as to warrant such strutting about?

    My other issue is: why is the man genuflecting to her? Is she God? No, she’s east of Eden like everyone else. I thought marriage was an equal relationship. Why is he expected to submit to her, but were it the other way around it would be “sexist patriarchy”? Again it’s this hypocrisy of a post-war Western culture that’s all about style and no substance. Promoting these ridiculous wedding proposals out to the masses not only reflects a self-centeredness, it also influences the audiences’ expectations, both male and female. The girls will wish for the same and get mad when the boys don’t deliver; the boys are put in a stranglehold to emulate what is shown to them lest they taste the wrath of the woman who thinks she deserves it.

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