Planking (fad)

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Planking in a kitchen

Planking (or the Lying Down Game) is an activity consisting of lying in a face-down position, sometimes in an unusual or incongruous location. The palms of the hands are typically touching the sides of the body and the toes are typically touching the ground.[1] Some players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play.[1] The term planking refers to mimicking a wooden plank. Planking can include lying flat on a flat surface, or holding the body flat while it is supported in only some regions, with other parts of the body suspended. Many participants in planking have photographed the activity in unusual locations and have shared such pictures through social media.

Planking gained popularity rapidly and eventually notoriety from early-mid 2011 before slowly phasing out in early 2012.


A planking-like activity called face dancing by its participants was initiated in 1984 in Edmonds, Washington in the US by Scott Amy and Joel Marshall.[2][3] The two high school age boys were walking in a park when they came upon a baseball game. They decided to lie face down in right field to see if anyone would react.

The first video-recorded occurrence of planking was in 1994 when Tom Green performed a stunt he called "Dead Guy" for a cable TV show, which consisted of Green lying down on an Ottawa sidewalk without moving. Green, who was in an MTV show in the 1990s, is a comedian known for his pranks. He informed CNN about this video evidence and how it did not air on the show, stating that it was "a very obscure piece of video."[4] Green tweeted "Just found video of me #planking in 1994. I will post it soon. Let people know. :)" on 12 July 2011.[5]

However, the video sketch was never aired. So when, in 1997, two bored school boys in Taunton, England, started lying face-down in public places to amuse themselves and baffle onlookers, they could not have known of Green's stunt. Gary Clarkson (then aged 15) and Christian Langdon (then aged 12) called it the "lying down game". As Clarkson puts it, "It was just a really stupid, random thing to do."[6][7] The Lying Down Game remained within Clarkson and Langdon's circle of friends until 2007, when their friend Daniel Hoppin created a Facebook page for their craze. As Hoppin says, "We began a Facebook group to see who could get the craziest photo."[7]

The term "planking" was coined by Sam Weckert, Darcy McCann and Kym Berry of Adelaide, South Australia: "Planking was a term myself and two other mates came up with in the summer of 2008".[7] Weckert created a Facebook fan page to share "planking" photos. After reports of the practice started appearing in the Australian media, it grew rapidly and the meme became a global phenomenon.[8] After reports of the craze in the British media in 2009,[9][10] Planking spread to the rest of the world. Worldwide it has also been known as "extreme lying down" (2008, Australasia), "facedowns" (2010, USA and Ireland),[11] and "planking" (2011, Australia, New Zealand and worldwide).[12] In the years following its explosion in popularity, several variations on planking have proliferated, some inspired by the fad, and others that have arisen independently.


The popularity of planking generated backlash.[13] Some people disapproved of the more objectionable photos that had circulated, such as a girl planking with her head in a toilet or a woman planking on a stripper pole.[14] Planking in dangerous places also resulted in many injuries and at least one death.[15]

Notable incidents[edit]

  • The planking fad made news in September 2009, when seven accident and emergency staff working at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, England were suspended for playing the "lying down game" during a night shift and posting photos to Facebook.[9][16] They were considered to have breached health and safety and infection control regulations.[17]
  • On 15 May 2011, Acton Beale, a 20-year-old man, plunged to his death after reportedly "planking" on a seventh-floor balcony in Brisbane, Australia.[18] The Darwin Awards recognised this incident in their 2011 edition.[19]
  • On 29 May 2011, Max Key, son of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, uploaded to Facebook a photograph of himself planking on a lounge suite, his father standing behind him. Afterwards, the photograph was reproduced on the front page of the New Zealand Herald.[20] Confirming that the photograph was indeed genuine, John Key remarked that he didn't see anything wrong with planking when done safely.[21] Key was criticised for his appearance in the photograph, with some going as far as to comment that he "killed" the meme.[22]
  • On 2 September 2011, Dwight Howard and about 100 of his fans planked in Beijing, China as part of a promotional Adidas campaign.[23][24]
  • On 20 January 2012, Pat Barry planked on television after a mixed martial arts match in which he won a knockout victory over his opponent.[25][26]

In popular culture[edit]


Athletic planking[edit]

Despite its origin as a form of humorous human position, planking has notable practical uses in certain athletic endeavors. As an example, the act of lowering one's perspective can reveal important information. One application is reading greens on a golf course. PGA Tour professional golfer Martin Trainer is known to use his pioneering seal-style plank to read putting greens.

PGA Tour Professional Golfer Martin Trainer uses the seal-style plank to read a green

Derivative posing fads and variations[edit]

  • Teapotting consists of bending the arms into the shape of a teapot, in reference to the children's song "I'm a Little Teapot". This variation was created by teachers in Mortlake College in an attempt to create a new 'craze' after noticing the amount of attention given to planking.[37]
  • Playing Dead (known as "시체놀이" in Korean) originated in South Korea in 2003.[38] It involves a large number of participants pretending to be dead. It was inspired by the manga character Crayon Shin-chan and is thought to have arisen independently of planking.[39]
  • Hadouken-ing also known as Makankosappo, involves multiple people staging a "Ki attack" knockout sequence and photographing themselves in mid-action, posed like in the popular Japanese fighting arcade game Street Fighter or manga series Dragon Ball.[40]
  • Gallon smashing involves a person spilling a gallon of liquid (usually milk), then "falling" and having a hard time getting back up.[41]
  • Vadering mimics Darth Vader's Force Choke hold. One person has their hand up in a choking gesture, while their "victim" looks to be raised off the ground while clutching at their neck.[42][43]
Owling (and planking) in the snow
  • Owling is a variation on planking in which a person squats "like an owl" in a populated but unusual area. Participants commonly make noises similar to an owl, to make the owl impression more realistic.[44] It was first documented on 11 July 2011 in a post on the social news website reddit.[44][45]
  • Horsemaning involves posing two people so that they appear to be a single body with a detached head and is a revival of a photography fad popular in the 1920s. It is thought that the name comes from the Headless Horseman in Washington Irving's short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.[46]
  • Batmanning involves hanging upside down by the feet.[47]
  • Dufnering is a variation of planking that involves a person lying with the bottom half of their body on the floor, the top half leaning up, their arms close to the side of their body, and their hands ending towards the bottom of their thighs. The person would also be looking straightforward. The fad began when Rory McIlroy tweeted a photo of himself imitating 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner.[48]
  • Pratting is a variation of planking that was spawned from a scene in the film Jurassic World in which Chris Pratt's character uses a defensive posture to save himself from velociraptors while inside of their cage. The pose requires the user to have their knees slightly bent, head forward, arms extended out far (sometimes with one closer to the subject) and fingers up. Immediately following the film's wide release, many zookeepers posted images of themselves in similar formation with their respective animals.[49]


  1. ^ a b [Staff] (9 September 2009). "The lying down game: how to play". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 November 2010. The rules of the lying down game are simple: lie face down, with palms touching your sides and toes touching the ground
  2. ^ Zeidler, Dikla. "The Story of Planking". YouTube.
  3. ^ "Face Dancing aka Planking". Nanotechnopolis. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Now it's called planking, but it was originally called face dancing.
  4. ^ Duke, Alan (13 July 2011). "New Clues in Planking Origins Mystery". CNN. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  5. ^ Bershad, Jon (13 July 2011). "You Know That Internet Phenomenon 'Planking'? Seems That Tom Green Invented It In 1994". Mediaite. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  6. ^ Meltzer, Tom (16 May 2011). "Planking: A Brief History". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  7. ^ a b c BBC Staff (16 May 2011). "Who, What, Why: What is Planking?". BBC News Magazine. BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  8. ^ SkyNews Staff (13 May 2011). "Police Crackdown on 'Planking' Craze". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b [Staff] (9 September 2009). "'Lying down' NHS staff suspended". BBC News Magazine. London. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  10. ^ Telegraph Staff (10 July 2009). "Picture Galleries, How About That: The Lying Down Game on Facebook" (image and caption). The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  11. ^ Byrne, Niall (14 May 2010). "Facedown on the Up". DayandNightMag. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  12. ^ Russel, Mathew (16 May 2011). "Planking Gladstone". CNN. Queensland Police. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  13. ^ "I Hate Planking – Google Search".
  14. ^ Wright, Danielle (6 July 2011). "Planking: What's All the Controversy About?". BET. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  15. ^ "'Planking' death puts spotlight on bizarre Web craze". CNN. 18 May 2011. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  16. ^ de Bruxelles, Simon (10 September 2009). "Seven NHS staff suspended over Facebook 'Lying Down Game' pictures". The Times. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011. The seven staff members [...] face disciplinary proceedings. They were suspended on full pay after managers at the Great Western Hospital were alerted to the prank.
  17. ^ Savill, Richard (9 November 2009). "Hospital staff suspended over Facebook 'lying down game' pictures". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2020. A spokesman for GWH confirmed the staff suspensions, saying health and safety and infection control regulations had been broken, as well as the NHS and Trust code of conduct.
  18. ^ Calligeros, Marissa (15 May 2011). "Planking death: man plunges from balcony". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 4 May 2020. Acton Beale, aged 20, fell from the balcony of a unit block on Main Street in Kangaroo Point shortly before 4.30am.
  19. ^ "2011 Darwin Award: Planking Spanking". Retrieved 5 May 2020. This Australian craze had infected poor Mr. Acton B., a (former) planking enthusiast who was not aware that Balconies Are The #1 One Cause of Gravity-Fed Darwin Awards.
  20. ^ "PM's son named 'New Zealand's top planker'" Yahoo News/AFP (31 May 2011)
  21. ^ "PM says a safe plank fine by him". One News. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Did John Key kill planking meme?". Stuff. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2020. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key might have taken planking mega, or might have killed it, depending on who you believe.
  23. ^ Golliver, Ben (2 September 2011). "Dwight Howard planks with 100 fans in China". CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  24. ^ Richard, Brandon (2 September 2011). "Photos: Dwight Howard Planks with 100 Fans to Kick Off adidas China Tour in Beijing". Sole Collector. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  25. ^ "UFC on Twitter". Twitter. UFC. 20 January 2012. Archived from the original on 4 May 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020. First man to plank inside the Octagon? Pat Barry @HypeOrDie has been upping all sorts of skills this camp #groundgame #subdefense #UFCFX
  26. ^ Mikko (24 January 2012). "Pat 'HD' Barry planking in UFC on FX 1". YouTube. Archived from the original on 4 May 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  27. ^ Friar, Christine (23 September 2011). "The Office Tries Planking for its Season Premier 9-23-2011". Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  28. ^ "JAY-Z & Kanye West – Gotta Have It Lyrics". Genius. Retrieved 4 May 2020. Instead of planking like this normal guy, Hov planks on his millions of dollars
  29. ^ "Slang Dictionary: Faith Hilling". Retrieved 4 May 2020. [...] "Faith Hilling" is the third episode of Season 16 of South Park. According to show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they originally wanted to make an episode about planking [...]
  30. ^ Kleinman, Jacob (29 March 2012). "New South Park Episode: Faith Hilling, Swifting, Breading and Other Memes". International Business Times. Retrieved 4 May 2020. The third South Park Episode of Season 16, [...] took the trend of internet memes [...] to new levels of absurdity. The trend itself began with planking [...]
  31. ^ "Video: Regina Spektor – "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)"". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2020. I give her planking, Inception reenactment, and Jenga skills a five, out of four.
  32. ^ "Regina Spektor hace planking en el vídeo de "Don't Leave Me"" [Regina Spektor is planking on the video for "Don't Leave Me"]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  33. ^ De Mesa, Karl R. (5 March 2014). "Movie review: The truth about dogs and boys in 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman'". GMA News Online. Retrieved 4 May 2020. Mr. Peabody the talking, genius dog invented planking, the fist bump, the backside Ollie, and zumba.
  34. ^ Scherstuhl, Alan (5 March 2014). "The Meh Wayback: Mr. Peabody & Sherman". the Village Voice. Retrieved 4 May 2020. [...] in the first two minutes, distinguished Peabody makes cracks about Zumba, planking, yoga poses [...]
  35. ^ Harkness, Ryan (7 July 2019). "Video: Adesanya reacts to Masvidal's flying knee KO of Askren at UFC 239". Retrieved 4 May 2020. The n**ga planked. He brought planking back." Adesanya said.
  36. ^ George, Dhruv (8 July 2019). "Jorge Masvidal Delivers the Fastest Knock Out in UFC History". Retrieved 4 May 2020. UFC fighter Jorge Masvidal [...] created the record for the fastest knockout in UFC history. [...] "He's bringing planking back," crowed UFC interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
  37. ^ Jonathon Pech (9 May 2011). "Forget Planking–Now It's Teapotting". The Examiner. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  38. ^ J., Madeleine (9 July 2010). "People Playing Dead In Public Locations". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2013. In 2003 the 'playing dead' craze swept through [...] South Korea -since then it's spread all over the web.
  39. ^ "Planking Fails". 16 August 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  40. ^ Prakash, Neha (28 March 2013). "Hadouken Meme Strikes Internet Like Lighting". Mashable.
  41. ^ "Gallon Smash Prank Has Virginia Roots (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2020. It is what it sounds like. Someone smashes gallons of milk in a grocery store aisle. They "fall." They have a hard time getting up.
  42. ^ huffingtonpost france (5 April 2013). "PHOTOS. Le Vadering : après le Harlem Shake et le "kamehameha", la nouvelle mode photo des internautes". huffingtonpost france.
  43. ^ Perez, Daniel. "Vadering Meme Features Darth Vader's Force Choke". ubergizmo.
  44. ^ a b Doug Gross (2011). "Forget planking -- who's up for owling? -". Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  45. ^ Owling the new planking. YouTube. Retrieved on 19 January 2012.
  46. ^ 'Planking' is Dead; Long Live 'Horsemaning' [SLIDESHOW] – International Business Times. (11 August 2011). Retrieved on 2012-01-19.
  47. ^ Batmanning is a Christian Bale stunt with an Adam West flavour 11 September 2011, The Guardian's Sam Leith
  48. ^ "The birth of Dufnering".
  49. ^ "Zookeepers recreate Chris Pratt's velociraptor pose from Jurassic World". The Daily Telegraph. London. 18 June 2015.

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