‘Planking' craze hits Bermuda
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What do you think of 'planking'?
The Royal Gazette took to the streets of Hamilton yesterday to ask locals for their views on the planking fad. Of those interviewed, almost all said they had heard of planking — while none would admit to having tried it.
“It doesn't make any sense to me and it's not even funny,” said Jeff Abel, who added that were he to try his hand at planking he would be “going to the extreme”.
One woman became suddenly angry when the subject was broached, and — asked whether she would try the hobby — replied: “Don't come near me with that nonsense!”
Others were slightly more charitable. “If that's what they want to do, let them do it,” said one woman who gave her name only as Mrs Simmons. “It's for the children anyway. If they've found something fun then good, it's better than doing crimes.”
Her comments were echoed by Deniqua Robinson, who took a similarly tolerant view: “Why not? What's wrong with it? To each his own.”
Interest in planking was no greater among the young people interviewed in our small survey.
“It's fun to watch people doing it,” said Calvina, who added that she had no plans to take up the hobby herself.
“I think it's silly,” said Makhail, who said he had seen pictures of others planking but was not tempted to join in.
Of all those interviewed yesterday, the closest thing to enthusiasm came from Cushi Ming who said: “I'm too old to do it myself, but I can appreciate a good plank!”
Planking, one of the more peculiar and ubiquitous web crazes of recent years, has now reached Bermuda.
For the uninitiated, the premise is simple enough: find an unusual public place to lie face down, with your legs together and your arms at your side. Next, have your photo taken in this pose, preferably with incredulous bystanders looking on. Finally, upload your planking photo to the Internet, to join millions of others who have done the same.
Some young Bermudians seem to have embraced the fad with gusto, offering an island take on a global phenomenon. Last week, a Facebook group was created where local practitioners can share their own exploits and comment on pictures uploaded by other plankers.
“You get creativity points for planking in odd places like trees branches. Or escalators,” reads the group's description. “The more wild you get, the better the picture will be.”
Among the dozens of planking sites already documented are: a cannon at Fort Scaur, various flat Bermuda chimneys and the beacon tower at St George's Cut. One planker even managed to position himself precariously in the arms of the Johnny Barnes statue on East Broadway just long enough for a photograph.
The group promises to highlight the “craziest planking photo” by giving it pride of place on the front page.
So far this honour belongs to an individual pictured lying in broad daylight on top a patrol car parked across from Hamilton Police Station. Such is the popularity of the fad that it was not long before a photo appeared of a uniformed policewoman in the familiar pose.
The photo, believed to have been taken recently, caused a minor controversy on local Facebook pages at the weekend. Although some saw the humour in the pictures, others such as politician Jeff Sousa took a harder line: “I do have a big problem with uniformed police officers planking on police vehicles when we have seniors living in fear in there (sic) own homes and crime at an all-time high on our Island,” he wrote in a Facebook posting. “One of our number one issues as a people is crime and police officers are paid to protect us not plank!”
Indeed, photos of police officers planking in uniform have reached the desk of Commissioner Michael DeSilva, who yesterday sent an e-mail to the Police Service reminding officers to “conduct themselves at all times in a professional manner and with professional decorum”.
A spokesman added that the police considered the new phenomenon unwise, adding that, “We discourage the practice, especially with Government and privately owned property. We caution the public that they can be held criminally liable for any damage caused to property that isn't theirs.”
For now, the local planking following remains relatively modest especially compared to Britain and Australia, where the craze appears to be at its height. Still, according to some local enthusiasts, its popularity here is on the rise.
“In the last few weeks it's become huge,” said one Hamilton shop assistant, who along with some friends is planning to do a ‘planking tour' of the Island this summer.
“It's been around Europe for years,” added her colleague. “There's nothing wrong with it, it's just lying down!”
The global planking fad has not been without controversy, however. It gained unwanted notoriety in May, when a man in Australia where the craze is said to have originated fell to his death from a seventh floor balcony. It was believed to be the first planking-related fatality.
Although planking enthusiasts which include celebrities like TV chef Gordon Ramsay and singer Chris Brown defend their hobby as a bit of idle fun, others have been more critical. American rapper Xzibit caused an online uproar last week by suggesting the fad was offensive to African Americans. “Planking was a way to transport slaves on ships during the slave trade,” he wrote in a Twitter posting, “It's not funny.”
The “Planking in Bermy” group assures readers that the purpose is not to be “racist” or “derogatory” but to share in a harmless game. Nevertheless, to the bemused observer the appeal of this movement might remain somewhat unclear. It has so far defied the typical shelf-life of similar online fads and shows little sign now of abating. Until it does, plankers may become a familiar sight here as they seek out ever stranger locations for their bizarre pastime.
Just don't bother to ask why.
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