Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Australia's Worst Export: Planking Finally Invades America

Saturday morning, after picking up my kid from his art class, I was walking with him on East 11th Street, across from St. Mark's Church, when we came upon a boy, looked to be about ten years old, lying on the sidewalk. His eyes were closed, and though I could see him breathing, for a moment, I wondered whether something bad had happened—whether I would have to call 911, and whether my own kid was about to witness something much heavier than I would ever want for him to witness. Three guys walking in front of us had fanned out to step around around him, slowing to inspect the scene. As my kid, who is six, and I did the same, I scanned the street for clues as to what was going on. Twenty feet away, standing in a doorway to a building, I saw two man standing and talking and looking toward the prone boy. "I don't know, it's like some kind of performance art or something," one of them said, and they both chuckled and shook their heads in a way that told me that the speaker was the dad.

So, phew, I thought. But also, I judged the guy for allowing this kind of "performance art" to take place on his watch. It was a crowded sidewalk. The guys in front of me had almost tripped over the boy. I had come close to doing the same myself. Even more than that, I didn't appreciate the moment of worry and fright. Had this boy heard the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Hadn't his father?

"Daddy," my kid asked once we out of earshot. "Why was that boy lying down on the sidewalk?"

"I don't know," I said.

"He shouldn't lie there like that. I almost kicked him."

"I agree," I said.

Of course, the boy on the sidewalk was doing something called "planking," which has all of Australia in turmoil, since they have to put forward planking-related death education.

Even worse news? Now the kids are starting pillaring.

30 Comments / Post A Comment

Mr. B (#10,093)

I'm just impressed that your six-year-old says "lying" and not "laying." That's what I call parenting.

But is planking really worse than Baz Luhrmann?

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@Mr. B Or Vegemite? Or Mel Gibson?

@boyofdestiny Or Foster's? I think we know the answer.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@boyofdestiny: Does Mel count, being American-born and all? But Vegemite: whoa. I thought it didn't exist over here.

@ContainsHotLiquid: I've known several Australians who had never heard of Foster's until they were in the U.S. and dined at an Outback Steakhouse.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Mr. B Foster's is what happens when you drink beer out of an oil can.

laurel (#4,035)

@Mr. B And they were bemused by the big cans.

Wait, they went to Outback Steakhouse?

Mr. B (#10,093)

@spiralbetty: Their American hosts thought they might find it amusing.

macartney (#1,889)

From the BBC: "The growth of planking is an example of the "meme" – an idea that goes viral online and becomes a global trend. Recent examples are Lolcats, Hitler Downfall parodies, flashmobbing and extreme ironing." I had never heard of extreme ironing… I'm officially old/out-of-touch?

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

When I was younger, we used to do pillaring. Except it was called "standing still," and it was something we did to appease authority, not confound it. These kids today. So postmodern!

SeanP (#4,058)

@boyofdestiny pillaring: because planking is so maintstream.

mrmcd (#9,309)

Either 28 is the new 50, or everyone in Australia brain damaged, because I really don't understand what's so "hilarious" about lying down on stuff.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

@mrmcd I feel like a lot of memes these days catch on not because they're particularly funny, but because they're easy to replicate. Any moron can lie down on a thing while a friend takes a picture, so it's easy to participate.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

this meme has no upward mobility.

Is this similar to when The Program came out and all us kids starting lying in the middle of the roads?

GailPink (#9,712)

@ContainsHotLiquid I thought of that as well.

sigerson (#179)

@ContainsHotLiquid – beat me to it! My buddies and I always took credit for lying down on the yellow lines in the middle of the road because we were doing it before The Program came out.

Smitros (#5,315)

Kids, kids, this is some serious Cirque du Soleil/Ninja Warrior stuff. No one should consider attempting this without years of gymnastics/yoga/Pilates or something similar. And then they should decide not to anyway.

Ah, this explains why this is more popular than my Internet meme "plankton".

Dave Bry (#422)

Careful, you can krill yourself doing that, too.

Whale just have to see how it turns out.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@Clarence Rosario I'm lichen it.

laurel (#4,035)

Sea monkey see, sea monkey do.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

@Clarence Rosario I'm in the same boat as you on that one.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I'd like a Smirnoff Ice and a siphon, please.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Much like the "digital library" seemingly made entirely of glass at my local university, this whole thing seems like it was conceived so I could have something to throw things at.

GailPink (#9,712)

Only marginally less retarded than wearing your pants belted below your ass.

harpo (#12,383)

erm, more importantly, why is the picture of a "flashmob" in that article doing the nazi salute? yikes.

Bin Laden is dead, fads are in the news, life is back to normal. 9/11 is finally over.

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