Some people will do just about anything for a shred of acknowledgement from their pop idols. For Arcadia High School student Matt Peterson, that meant filming himself naked on Camelback Mountain with his no-no area obscured by a foam twerk finger as he asked his celebrity crush Miley Cyrus to the prom.
As things like this go, the video quickly went viral, reaching more than 300,000 views in less than a week, stopping just short of a million before Warner Brothers claimed copyright and yanked it from YouTube. (Peterson since has uploaded it again.)
Peterson's invitation landed him airtime on E! and Fox 10, as well as radio interviews across the country. Everyone wanted to know what made this kid ask such a bold question to a rich and famous pop star. It's actually surprising that no one thought of the idea sooner, but every meme of a similar vein gives me that l'esprit d'escalier feeling of "shoulda thoughta that."
Ms. Cyrus eventually did respond to Peterson's forthright request, saying she couldn't make it to his prom night (likely because she'll be touring Europe at the time), and she invited him backstage when her "Bangerz Tour" cruises through Phoenix on February 27.
Peterson now plans to tailor a suit made of tongues, which, um, sounds pretty cool.
However, it won't be the first time Matt and Miley lock eyes. In 2009, when Peterson was 12, he randomly was picked to meet the former Disney princess during a radio interview during 104.7's Johnjay and Rich show. Six months after that, Miley gave the guy a shout-out at her show at Jobing.com Arena. Each time, Matt wept tears of joy.
I don't understand this kind of modern pop icon worship. Why so desperate to have your existence recognized by someone who makes Auto-Tuned, ringtone-ready MP3s? But I can't throw stones, exactly, so before Miley turned down the lad, I gave Matt a call and asked him a few questions.
We met at Jobot just as the Fifth Street coffee and art joint was setting up for the most recent First Friday. Matt had never been there nor had he heard of the area's monthly music and arts event. Hmm. That might explain a lot.
Matt describes his former Hannah Montana hangup likewise. It's a fixation that began in his elementary years and only grew as he got older. For a scrawny 17-year old, his voice still retaining a bit of prepubescent pitch, you gotta admit the kid is earnest. Bravo to him for sticking to his guns and actually getting the attention he sought. Naturally, this has brought on a lot of teasing, but his ability to rise above it, no matter the merit of his music tastes, is kind of cool, right? In other words, what the fuck have you done?
"One of the reasons I posted the video was to go by what she stands for," Peterson says. "Which, to me, is not caring what people think and just putting yourself out there. So that's exactly what I did in the video -- I'm naked on a mountain."
When Matt returned to school the weekend after his video was posted, he expected to be assailed with insults. Instead, he was greeted by high-fives and pats on the back, like something out of A Goofy Movie. All his teachers had watched the clip, as did the vice principal at Arcadia High School, obviously thrilled by the attention the video has pointed toward the school. Between classes, Peterson was fielding interviews to radio stations, and when the last bell rang, Peterson left the school gates to find Fox 10 vans stalking him. The exposure only increased from there.
Some have said this is going to stunt Matt's ability to get into college or find a decent job, but he's not worried. Peterson wants to be just like Ryan Seacrest, hoping to study broadcast journalism at Chapman University, maybe one day get on E.
Wait, you mean Ecstasy?
"Nonononono," Peterson giggled. "E! Entertainment."
Oh, right, of course.
Peterson is involved in student government at his school, so he's been planning this prom for almost a year now. Even though Miley won't be going with him, he's received a plethora of offers. Peterson hoped Ryan Seacrest would go instead. No, really.
"I'm obsessed with like Miley and Ryan -- those are my two," Peterson said. "I like all the pop artists. I support them all, but I'm not obsessed with anyone else. I'm not as big a fan. Maybe [I'd ask] Taylor Swift, so she'd write a song about me."
I went into this interview hoping to get more answers about why people find so much fascination in fame and I came out with even less an idea. But after meeting Matt, I can say he's a decent guy with a lot of guts, so more power to him.
Miley Cyrus is scheduled to appear Thursday, February 27, at US Airways Center.