Exploring Prom Night In America
Photographer Mary Ellen Mark captures this teenage moment.
It's just a dance, right?
Actually, maybe that's the last thing the prom is. Maybe the photo is even more important, because it freezes you. It's your chance, as high school trickles away, to say "This is who I am. This will be who I was."
We've been looking at prom photos by Mary Ellen Mark, who will be on our show today, and they're striking in the range of emotional states they convey. We see joy, hesitation, confidence, detachment and some flat-out haunted looks.
Perhaps the central fiction of prom is that it happens in a vacuum. The rest of he world sloughs away for a moment of untainted glamour. But it doesn't. All of your life is still right there with you, riding on your back, lifting you up or dragging you down.
Of course, the other thing you're trying to do is make a memory. Do you still have yours? Your prom memory, that is?