The New Footloose

Mean girls

Actual Hate Prom photo. Apparently the girl in the red dress thinks there's going to be an ice skating rink there.

Last month a Fulton, Mississippi high school girl, Constance McKinnen, had her high school cancel her prom because she wanted to bring her girlfriend. She and the ACLU sued and she won – with the judge’s understanding that Constance would be invited to the new prom that the parents had organized.

Well, Constance was invited to a prom, it was just a fake one at a local country club. She and five other students, two of them with learning disabilities, were chaperoned by the principal and teachers, while the majority of students partied at an undisclosed location their parents had arranged.

Now, pictures of the “real” prom have surfaced on facebook, with kids clearly having a blast at the Hate Prom – engaging in long lines of hate freaking, the homophobic robot and the Electric Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve Slide.

As I looked at the pictures, I realized that this town’s story is the new Footloose.

Constance is John Lithgow’s character, Reverend Moore, who’s trying to impose her beliefs on an entire town. And the parents of the kids, well, they’re all collectively Kevin Bacon’s character, Ren McCormick. They’re all plucky rebels who just want what all real Americans want: to worship at the church of their choice, to watch Thursday night television uninterrupted, and to find new and interesting ways to persecute gay people.

I picture all those parents, as soon as the ACLU won the case against them, driving their VWs into an empty warehouse to dance out their anger like Ren did. They throw their tape of Michael Bublé in the stereo and start rockin ‘out. As the sun breaks through the slats in the warehouse wall, we see their appliqué sweatshirts and husky dockers silhouetted as they run and punch the air in frustration. And when they get to the part where they leap onto the high bar that just happens to be in the warehouse, which is weird, and do gymnastic swings around it, none of them really nail the dismount, so they just start landing on each other, ending up in a giant pile of mom jeans and newscaster hair before someone finally says, “Hey! We don’t need to do this! We can solve this the American way – through duplicity and massive, organized, publicly sponsored passive aggression!”

So just like Ren and Ariel (and Sarah Jessica Parker) they create their own rebel prom, with lots of twinkly lights and extra sparkly intolerance. (And speaking of sparkly things, I’ll bet these kids would’ve invited Edward Cullen to their prom in a second – how is it that they can be in love with vampires, but terrified by a couple of lesbians?)

But in all seriousness, it’s not the kids in this scenario that terrify me. It’s the adults who engaged in this behavior that’s straight out of Mean Girls.

And the memberships to Christian churches they listed on their facebook pages just makes me want to ask them, “Have you seen this one other movie? It’s called Jesus Christ Superstar, and it is AWESOME.” It’s a sort of biography of this very cool guy who may or may not have lived a long time ago, and there’s singing and dancing and stuff (which I don’t think really happened), but anyway…he said all this great stuff about not judging people lest you be judged, and not persecuting people for their beliefs and most importantly, that those people who are sent to fake proms? They’re going to inherit the earth, so you’d better get your resumé together.

Well, he sang most of it, but that’s not the point.

So, Fulton parents, go ahead and rent that Superstar movie, and when you’ve finished watching it, maybe we can talk about what you’ve done.  Oh, and while you’re at the video store, rent Carrie.  ‘Cuz Stephen King? That guy knew how to throw a hate prom.


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