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Planking in a field

Planking 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.

Jay-Z and Eminem have made reference to planking in their songs "Gotta Have It" for Watch the Throne and single "Rap God", respectively, after the practice gained popularity and eventually notoriety from late 2010 to early 2011 in Australia.[2]



A planking-like activity – called face dancing by its participants – was initiated in 1984 in Edmonds, Washington by Scott Amy and Joel Marshall.[3][4] 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.”[5] Green tweeted “Just found video of me #planking in 1994. I will post it soon. Let people know. :)” on July 12, 2011.[6]

However, the video sketch was never aired. So when, in 1997, two bored school boys in Taunton 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."[7][8]

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."[8]

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".[8] 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.[9] After reports of the craze in the British media in 2009,[10][11] 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),[12] and "planking" (2011, Australia, New Zealand and worldwide).[13] 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 has generated a backlash.[14] Some people object to the more ridiculous photos that have circulated, such as a girl planking with her head in a toilet or a woman planking on a stripper pole.[15] Also, planking in dangerous places has resulted in many injuries and at least one death.[16]

Notable incidentsEdit

  • The game made news in September 2009, when seven doctors and nurses working at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, England were suspended for planking while on duty.[10][17][18][19]
  • 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.[20]
  • 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.[21] Confirming that the photograph was indeed genuine, John Key remarked that he doesn't see anything wrong with planking when done safely.[22] Key was criticized for his appearance in the photograph, with some going as far as to comment that he "killed" the meme.[23]
  • On 2 September 2011, Dwight Howard and about 100 of his fans planked in Beijing, China.[24][25]
  • 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. This was broadcast in the United States and internationally.[26][failed verification]

In popular cultureEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b [Staff] (September 9, 2009). "The lying down game: how to play". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved November 13, 2010. The rules of the lying down game are simple: lie face down, with palms touching your sides and toes touching the ground
  2. ^ David Drake (15 October 2013). "...Off of planking, tell me what the fuck are you thinking?". Complex AU.
  3. ^ Zeidler, Dikla. "The Story of Planking". YouTube.
  4. ^ "Face Dancing aka Planking". Nanotechnopolis. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Duke, Alan (July 13, 2011). "New Clues in Planking Origins Mystery". CNN. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  6. ^ Bershad, Jon (July 13, 2011). "You Know That Internet Phenomenon 'Planking'? Seems That Tom Green Invented It In 1994". Mediaite. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  7. ^ Meltzer, Tom (May 16, 2011). "Planking: A Brief History". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  8. ^ a b c BBC Staff (May 16, 2011). "Who, What, Why: What is Planking?". BBC News Magazine. BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  9. ^ SkyNews Staff (May 13, 2011). "Police Crackdown on 'Planking' Craze". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  10. ^ a b [Staff] (9 September 2009). "'Lying down' NHS staff suspended". BBC News Magazine. London. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  11. ^ Telegraph Staff (10 July 2009). "Picture Galleries, How About That: The Lying Down Game on Facebook" (image and caption). The Telegraph. London. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  12. ^ Byrne, Niall (May 14, 2010). "Facedown on the Up". DayandNightMag. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Russel, Mathew (May 16, 2011). "Planking Gladstone". CNN. Queensland Police. Archived from the original on May 16, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  14. ^ "I Hate Planking - Google Search".
  15. ^ Wright, Danielle (2011-07-06). "Planking: What's All the Controversy About?". BET. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  16. ^ "'Planking' death puts spotlight on bizarre Web craze". CNN. 2011-05-18. Archived from the original on 2013-01-19.
  17. ^ Simon de Bruxelles (September 10, 2009). "Seven NHS staff suspended over Facebook 'Lying Down Game' pictures". The Times. London. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  18. ^ Richard Savill (September 9, 2009). "Hospital staff suspended over Facebook 'lying down game' pictures". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  19. ^ The Times [Staff] (September 10, 2009). "Internet Craze 'Lying Down Game' Gets 7 Doctors, Nurses Suspended in Emergency Ward". Fox News. Retrieved November 13, 2010. Using content from The Times.
  20. ^ "Australia man plunges to 'planking' death - World news - Asia-Pacific - NBC News". NBC News. 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  21. ^ "PM's son named 'New Zealand's top planker'" Yahoo News/AFP (31 May 2011)
  22. ^ "PM says a safe plank fine by him". One News. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  23. ^ Did John Key kill planking meme?. Retrieved on 2012-01-19.
  24. ^ Golliver, Ben (2011-09-02). "Dwight Howard planks with 100 fans in China". CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  25. ^ Gardner, Sam. "Dwight Howard planks with 100 fans in China". FS Florida. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  26. ^ [1]. (2012-01-20). Retrieved on 2012-01-23.
  27. ^ "The Office - Planking (Season 8) FULL". YouTube. 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  28. ^ Friar, Christine (23 September 2011). "The Office Tries Planking for its Season Premier 9-23-2011". Retrieved 2012-07-31.

External linksEdit