Witless and moronic pictures of human planks clog cyberspace in a viral and possibly offensive new cultural craze. The new ‘planking’ phenomenon also known by the sophomoric staple, ‘the lying down game’ is trivial to many, but suggestive to some. All the nearly effortless game requires is that players lie face down with their arms at their sides at the most ludicrous of locations, and photograph their board-like bodies to be shared on the Web. While this child’s play appears an innocent act, there is concern that this new form of merriment mimics the positions that African-American’s ancestors assumed on slave ships destined for the Americas.
Rapper Exzibit was the first to point out the cultural insensitivity involved in fixing ourselves as stiff as pieces of timber in bizarre places. He took to Tweeting the link between the planking pastime, and the Middle Passage or Afro-American slave trade, “Planking was a way to transport slaves on ships during the slave trade, it’s not funny. Educate yourselves… Don’t get it twisted. I care less where you all lay face down and take pictures of it, I’m just telling you where it came from.”
Planking is not just another pathetic facet of our pop culture; after originating in Britain years ago,the inhumane mania blossomed on Australian radio stations as a promotional gimmick. Regardless of its national base, there is indeed an implicit tie between the frivolous fad and the slave-packed ships that crossed the Atlantic. Brave and bold blogger Courtney Luv illustrates this tie from a place of learned and intellectual enlightenment,” I did a little research and it revealed that slaves were chained and attached to “plank” beds. They were forced to lay face down with their arms by their side and their wrist chained to their waist. Some were even stacked on top of each other with no room to move. Keep in mind there were not any restrooms and they were exposed to bodily fluids, etc. Not many of the slaves survived, many dying from dehydration and disease. You can’t always jump on the bandwagon just because you saw someone else. Everything has a hidden meaning. Cultural sensitivity is real.”
As the newly acclaimed activist or ‘Al Sharpton’ of anti-planking hinted, Xzibit was probably right in suggesting that our willingness to chase this stiff and rigid rage comes from a place of uncultured ignorance. In that even celebrities of African descent such as Usher, Chris Brown and Rosario Dawson are on the beam-like bandwagon, our first inclination is to say they’re unknowingly striking a touchy subject with their plank-like postures. While it would be a stretch to label the new trend as ‘racist’ and stamp all loyal to the ‘lying down game’ as racial supremacists, it wouldn’t be a bad a idea for people to open a book and turn the pages of their country’s past rather than pledging allegiance to pillar-like poses.