The Internet is no stranger to crazy yearbook photos, but this one will stop you in your tracks.
A high school senior in Schenectady, New York hired Vincent Giordano of Trinacria Photography to take his photos for the school yearbook. But Giordano wasn't prepared for what happened when he met Draven Rodriguez, the student in question. Rodriguez told the photographer he wanted to "do something different" with his photos.
And boy was he not kidding.
Somehow, "something different" became this Awkward Family Photo by way of Saturday Night Fever. All that's missing are the leg warmers. Rodriguez posed in a suit-and-tie with his (we have to assume beloved) cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, and then had Giordano add neon lasers to the photos.
Is it legit? Well, yeah. Rodriguez really did have these photos made and submitted one for use as his high school yearbook photo. The Internet is wondering if Rodriguez genuinely believes this is a sincere representation of who he is, or if he's making a savvy, viral-bait joke in our hyper-connected world.
According to local Schenectady newspaper The Daily Gazette, it's both.
"I'm a little out there and a little tongue-in-cheek," he told the Gazette. "Cats and lasers... sarcastic. It's so outlandish and ridiculous."
He explained that he wanted something that would stand out in the yearbook, something his classmates would remember years later as something "only [Draven] would try."
Rodriguez is no dummy; he knew his school was likely to turn down the photo for inclusion in the yearbook. So before the school had even seen it, he made a preemptive strike by launching an online petition to lobby for the picture's inclusion. He hoped to get 500 signatures, but his story has been picked up by the media, so at the time of this writing he's gotten over 4,700 names.
May the world never get so bad that we won't allow laser-cat-yearbook-photos. Schenectady HS, we NEED this right now! http://t.co/NP3N44ZaV6
— Sean Kleier (@SeanKleier) September 12, 2014
Internet users are reacting exactly as you'd expect. Some think he's not showing the proper respect to his school or his classmates. Others applaud his creativity and sense of humor.
As for the school, they have now seen the photo and issued a response to the Gazette.
"That [photo] will not appear in the portrait section," said school spokeswoman Karen Corona. "It doesn't mean the photo won't be in the yearbook. It just means it won't be in the section where the more professional photos are."
Chin up, dear reader. Again proving his foresight, Rodriguez planned for such an eventuality. He has a backup photo from the same shoot, a standard head-and-shoulders portrait in that snazzy (if cat hair-covered) suit. But after you admire his visage, your eye will fall down to his lapel, where there's a button attached with a photo of Mr. Bigglesworth on it.
Well played, Mr. Rodriguez.