The XX Factor

Death to the Public Proposal

Word of warning to men who think it’s cute to surprise your girlfriend with flashy public proposals: Many in your often captive audience are inclined to wonder if you went with this route because you hope the fear of being booed will incline her to stuff her doubts and say yes. Or that you’re not only afraid of rejection, but a self-aggrandizing spotlight-hog to boot. Providence mayoral candidate Chris Young just reinforced these sneaking suspicions, plus created a few more, by proposing to his girlfriend in the middle of a mayoral debate .

There’s little doubt this was a stunt proposal; Young and his girlfriend Kara Russo have been presenting as engaged for at least a month now. Plus, Young is an irritating human being who needs to have attention at all points in time generally, it seems, which is why he does things like insist on using his TV appearances to promote his rock band . He’s just exploiting the fact that most people seem to think that public proposals are romantic in order to capture the news cycle.

Public proposals are romantic in the way that Las Vegas is tastefully understated. The popularity of the flashy proposal-and the ever-expanding wedding-industrial complex in general-indicates that Americans are a nation of people suffering from low self-esteem, a people who need to have overblown validation from large crowds to feel better about ourselves. Why can’t the occasional bout of karaoke satisfy the diva inside the American soul? I fear that the way the trends are heading, it’s only a matter of time before the consummation of the marriage becomes a public event, complete with expensive accessories and perhaps a consummation planner to help your consummation get even more YouTube hits than that of your friends.