Sunday, October 2, 2011

LifestyleBohol * This PLANKING Madness

The text is exactly as it appears on LifestyleBohol.  The photos are also on the magazine, except for the last three (Teapotting, Batmanning, Horsemanning), which aren't mine.



If you’re over 35-years-old and you’re reading this, do not put it down.  Read through and do your best to pretend to understand.  This is about a very youthful fad and you might want to update yourself a little bit.  After all, no self-respecting middle-aged person likes to be identified as an “outdated oldie.”  Besides, you'll find that there's a short part that talks about bureaucratic hullabaloo down below so you might as well read all of it.

Now, picture yourself in this situation:  You’re walking alone peacefully in a crowded public park and then someone in your way suddenly lies down face-on-ground as if an attack drill is going on.  Adding to that, a guy with a camera then starts a photo shoot session which seems to take forever to finish and you’re left stupefied, asking, “What in the world are they doing?”  You look around and everyone else appears too amused to actually notice how stupid it is.  You find that you’re the only one with a sour expression and then you start to worry why you’re the only one who doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.

You brush the incident off as nonsense and continue your peaceful stroll.  You walk into a mall where the soothing rush of cool air causes you to completely forget what had just happened.  Craving for some Italian cuisine, you make your way to the nearest pizzeria where, by the doorframe, someone else is doing the exact same thing you saw at the park.  You’re appalled by the situation and your hunger vanishes in an instant.  Part of you has an urge to run.  The rational side of you is itching to ask questions, but your know-it-all persona holds you back for fear of being branded “outdated.”

Okay, stop picturing now.  You may return to your own world.  If you read through the paragraphs above with full visualization, then congratulations!  You have successfully put yourself in my shoes.  That was exactly what happened to me several months ago.  I didn’t know what it was back then and I nearly abandoned all thoughts about it until last June when I saw a YouTube video featuring the exact same act performed in front of the Eiffel Tower.  As an added French touch, it even had an Edith Piaf song playing in the background.  As it turns out, the activity in question is called PLANKING, otherwise called “the lying down game.”  I took time to look it up and I realized it was all over the internet.  Other than YouTube, people have featured it on Facebook, blog sites, and what have you.  I leaned on my chair for a moment to ask, “Whoever came up with such an utterly ludicrous fad?”

Truth be told, I never really did any research until two days ago when I decided to feature planking on LifestyleBohol.  Wikipedia cites claimants to the invention of this phenomenon.  American comedian Tom Green says he invented it in 1994, while two Europeans, Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon, say they invented it in 2000.  Now, let me say this out in the open:  Nobody freaking invented planking!  It's a load of crap to claim they invented it.  They may have started the trend, but they most certainly didn't invent it.  I've been planking on my bed since I can remember.  Most of us do it almost every night.  Heck, some of us even wake up planking.  They may not have invented it, but they certainly found a way to make it look fun by making a fool out of themselves in public.  Am I right or am I right?

The mechanism of planking is, in a sense, quite artistic, you know.  It's essentially a game that nobody wins.  The idea is to plank in very usual places where doing so would otherwise constitute embarrassment for non-players.  This phenomenon leads me to believe that planking builds self-confidence because if you plank in front of Luneta's Rizal Monument, the Taj Mahal, or the World Trade Center Memorial, what could you possibly be ashamed of?

Oh, wait, if you think the madness stops there, you're dead wrong.  There are variations to this public stupidity.  I'll give you a pretty good idea of what human beings could come up with given merely a public place, sheer boredom, and a camera to work with.  So, anyway, there's owling—squatting on an elevated place and acting like an owl, deading—lying on your back and pretending you're dead, koalaing—hugging a post or tree and pretending you're a koala, toweling—hanging yourself like a towel, fetussing—curling yourself in a fetal position, teapotting, horsemanning, batmanning, and the list goes on forever.  Crazy, isn’t it?

Towelling & Fetussing
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Now, let's talk about the bureaucratic part I promised.  Young people, you need to concern yourselves with this, too.  It's about freedom.  Your planking days could very well be numbered.  A little over a week ago, Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo authored a bill proposing to ban planking as a means to express grievance against government after activists disrupted traffic in Metro Manila by mass planking in the streets.  I, for one, am not a big fan of such kinds of protests, but it's their right.  You can't create a law that mars other people's ability to freely express their grievances just because some people choose to endanger themselves doing it.  If they disrupt traffic, arrest them.  Otherwise, leave them alone.  If you ban planking, protesters could simply flip over and it’s not planking anymore.  The bill is stupid and poorly written.  This is not the People's Republic of China, so don't act like it is.  Let's digress from all this stressful talk of bureaucracy.

I really don't know where all this artistic madness is going.  Some people are annoyed by it; some are amused; while some just don't care.  A lot of folks say it's stupid, but hey, it's still art.  If you don't get it, then your sense of creativity needs some tuning up.  I'm pretty sure people will find more ways to combine stupidity and art in the future.  Until then, let's go planking!


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