Cinderella Goes to the Prom: Constructing Rituals of Youth Culture through Teen Media

  • Sidney Eve Matrix University of Winnipeg


In lieu of an abstract, here is an excerpt from this article: When we examine contemporary North American pop-cultural media representations of prom, what emerges is a host of ideologies about young womanhood, heterosexuality, and femininity. As John Fiske has pointed out about popular media in general, these kinds of pop-cultural productions are both oppressive and rebellious vis-à-vis the status quo, containing elements of evasion, jouissance, and the carnivalesque, while simultaneously reifying the most stifl ing, established, and dominant power relations. In what follows, I will examine how this play of positionalities occurs within the consumer space of prom, through the lens of a selection of American and Canadian teen magazines and one Hollywood film. The texts I study here suggest that North American female audiences of popular cultural productions are invited to conform, resist, reinvent, adopt a skeptical attitude towards, playfully engage with, but never entirely disengage from, the prom event. This means that there are various (albeit a delimited range of)ways that teen audiences are reflected, imagined, and invited to imagine themselves through the discourses of promland, and this collection of prom performances contradict, overlap, compete, and yet do not cancel each other out.