I had recently noticed the word "planking" showing up on Facebook, but paid no attention to it until one of my colleagues sent me this article demanding I explain. ---Apparently the fad originated in Australia, and as Willamette Week's resident Antipodean, the responsibility falls to me to write about it.
From the not exceptionally thorough research I have conducted, it seems that "planking" involves taking a picture of oneself lying straight, stiff and facedown in an unusual place, then posting it online. Although it quite escaped my notice, apparently planking has been around in Australia for years—though so have cricket and Curtis Stone, and I never paid any attention to those, either.
The fad only truly took off a few weeks ago, when a 20-year-old from Gladstone, Queensland planked a police car… then posted it on Facebook. And was then arrested. Do watch this hilariously serious news report on the story (oh, Nine, I miss your sorry excuses for journalism).
But things got out of hand a few days ago, when another 20-year-old from Brisbane, Queensland tried to plank on the balcony railing of his apartment, and fell seven stories to his death.
The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has spoken out against the fad, with this incredibly helpful statement:
"There's a difference between a harmless bit of fun done somewhere that's really safe and taking a risk with your life. Everybody likes a bit of fun, but the focus has to be on keeping yourself safe first."
Here is a rugby player planking:
Here is a TV host named Kerrie Anne Kennerly planking:
So here are the facts that we know:
This evidence all points to one thing: bogans.
They're a bit like rednecks, a bit like chavs. Allow a pre-movie star Eric Bana to demonstrate:
Yes, the same people who brought the world Ugg boots, box wine and Russell Crowe are responsible for this.
But while most of those things have had enduring, world-wide popularity (and Russell Crowe has his fans, too), I suspect the public's increasingly minute attention span will lose interest in planking in about five minutes, and it will join Gary Brolsma and the Hampsterdance in the graveyard of stupid internet memes.