Coffs Coast Independent
July 15, 2012
An over-the-top marriage proposal on YouTube can gather millions of hits. But is this phenomenon killing the moment for the rest of us?
Seeing a man on bended knee with his girlfriend gushing over a sparkling diamond ring is a moment that puts a smile on many a bystander’s face.
Or was that a smile on the faces of millions of viewers worldwide?
What was once a private moment shared between two people has gone global with the rise of the YouTube proposal phenomenon.
Type the words “marriage proposal” into the online archive and you’ll be greeted with no less than 43,000 videos from couples eager to share their special moment with the rest of the world.
Flash dances are all the rave, as demonstrated by Isaacs Live Lip-Dub Proposal, which shows footage of a girl being driven up a suburban street while 60 family and friends dance to Bruno Mars’ hit Marry Me around her.
Posted in May, the original video has already attracted 14 million hits.
But it’s by no means the most popular.
Matt and Ginny’s Greatest Marriage Proposal EVER!!! clip – a recorded event of Ginny visiting the local cinema only to be presentedwith a movie trailer showing Matt asking her dad for permission to marry her – is still breaking records with more than 21 million clicks.
But there is a dark side to this phenomenon.
Instead of spreading the romance, academics suggest the videos are killing it.
University of Melbourne social researcher Dr Lauren Rosewarne says society has put so much pressure on “bigger than Ben Hur” proposals, relationships are being crippled as a result.
“I’ve actually seen it with a close friend of mine,” she said.
“Her boyfriend proposed to her with a ring and a bunch of flowers in a Chinese restaurant they always visit and for her, it was a big disappointment and she’s now wondering whether she should call off the wedding.
“She started questioning whether this would be symptomatic of his spontaneous romance (credentials), started asking herself ‘is he wonderful enough?’.”
Dr Rosewarne says the craze was born by a generation obsessed with sharing every aspect of their lives on social media.
Desperate for social approval, this generation has realised that a standard proposal isn’t exciting enough to generate hits, so the need to go big is undeniable.
“It’s really dangerous because even if the proposal does work, it sets unrealistic expectations as to what marriage is going to be like,” Dr Rosewarne said.
“We’re living in a fantasy land and the rate of divorces is proof of that.
“All the emphasis is placed on the things that are for show rather than focusing on what is needed to make a marriage work.
“Just look at Kim Kardashian. She had a wedding that was bigger than Ben Hur and it lasted just 70 days.”
Dr Ross Wilkinson, from the Australian National University, says such proposals also put too much pressure on women.
The senior lecturer in clinical psychology says all is well and good if a couple are madly in love and ready to settle down.
But for those women who do not think the timing – or the man – is right, public proposals suddenly become very hard to refuse.
This is evident in videos such as Marriage Proposal Gone Bad, when a man is left saddened and embarrassed when his girlfriend refuses his proposal and walks out on him in the middle of a televised basketball match – viewed by 924,000 people.
“In some cases people need some time to think and sometimes it also requires negotiation,” Dr Wilkinson says.
“From a psychological point of view, I really don’t think it is a good thing to do.”
Dr Rosewarne says the idea of genuine romance is certainly not dead, but without better understanding between couples, the YouTube proposal phenomenon is in danger of getting out of hand.
“For every massive proposal there are hundreds of thousands done quietly that nobody hears of,” she said.
“But because we don’t hear of them, it’s the other ones that start to look the norm.”