Puzzled over planking and 12 alternatives

Planking pretty much puts people in prone positions, often for photo ops. And plankers post pictures of their plank positions all over the place. From Facebook to phone texts, folks find friends face-down. People have to ask, “What’s next?”

First, a clarification is needed here. I get that planking is a popular and well-recognized form of fitness training. But that’s another matter. That’s the ab-wrenching push-up-style exercise, in which participants hold the flat-out position until their entire bodies tremble in agony. It’s supposed to tighten core muscles in all those difficult spots.

That’s not the kind of planking I’m talking about here. This is about the planking prank. It kind of doesn’t make sense. People place themselves in prone positions in all sorts of strange spots and then post photographs on social networking sites. Clearly, this planking is not fitness-related. It’s all about the pictures.

Honestly, this planking prank is sort of running out of steam lately. But go with me on this. Let’s have a little fun at prank planking’s expense.

Prank planking variations abound - public domain photo

NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

Rest assured: Planking isn’t the first pranking fad to come and go.

In fact, it’s not nearly the funniest or cleverest. Who remembers mooning, which later evolved into streaking? How about moving fire drills at stoplights, mailbox baseball, or car egging? And don’t forget toilet papering yards, or its not-so-distant crank cousin, tinseling.

Even photographic fads are fleeting. How many not-so candid cameras have captured friends forming hearts or tiny stars with their fingers?

Still, planking has plunked persons in public view for portraits for the past few years. Several variations have appeared – some more daredevil than others. 

Yeah, this is NOT the same thing. Public domain photo

12 alternatives to planking

Take a look at a dozen forms of planking-like stunts that have cropped up. Maybe you know a few more as well.

1. Original planking

This one’s simple. Plankers lie down flat (like a plank of wood), with their faces in the dirt and both hands pressed to their sides. Apparently, the goal is to plank in the most unusual spot ever.

2. Batmanning

Like bats, folks hang rigidly upside-down, with their toes tucked over fences or ledges. City statues are popular sites for batmanning.

3. Deading

Flopped limply over poles, walls, barrels or other barriers, pranksters play dead.

4. Gravestoning

This fad is downright dangerous, as participants plunge themselves into water from cliffs or other high places, landing stick straight like tombstones. This prank requires the photographer to have quick reflexes, catching the exact moment when the gravestoner hits the water.

5. Headless horsemanning

It takes two to play this prank, which creates a photo, taken from an angle that makes one appear headless and the other just the head. This one's based on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," by Washington Irving. Of course, photo editing makes this gimmick easy to accomplish after shots are taken.

6. Koalaing (or Teddy Bearing)

Like the cute, cuddly bears, photo models wrap themselves around poles or tree trunks and grin.

7. Leisure diving

Using a fast shutter speed setting, a photographer captures the prankster in a seemingly relaxed lounge position, although the person is actually falling through the air, hopefully into a swimming pool or onto a trampoline.

8. Owling

Creepy, but creative, owlers perch on counters, furniture, car roofs or other elevated spots, usually holding their hands out as birdlike talons. Flamingoing takes a slightly different position (with one leg tucked up), but you get the idea.

9. Plumbking

Who remembers the swirly? Plumbking is a basically a self-induced swirly, for the sake of silly photography. What right-minded person would actually stick his own head in a toilet bowl?

10. Teapotting

Like the preschool song, “I’m a Little Teapot,” this fad poses people with one hand on a hip and the other bent out to resemble just that.

11. Tebowing

Denver Broncos star Tim Tebow, popularly tagged “God’s Quarterback,” became recognizable for kneeling and praying after a big play on the football field. Tebowing mimics this move for photos in unusual places.

12. Toothpicking

Pity the guy on the bottom in toothpicking, as he must remain in planking position, while another stands rigidly on his own head atop the first guy’s spine. Small-town teenagers and big-city celebrities have posted images of themselves in these crazy positions and more on social networking sites. Online video sharing sites offer freakish footage. Gag photos and daredevil shots have showed up in city newspapers and on television news. 

The original prank planking format - public domain photo

What won’t people do for attention?

Pranks continue to develop. We’ve already seen ice cream coning, when drive-through customers grab their frozen dairy desserts by the tops to make mushy messes. That’s just slightly less rude than the soda toss, which you can imagine.

We've also seen milking, which essentially results in a dairy shampoo (usually self-inflicted).  Think of the Bucket Challenge, but with milk and no charitable beneficiary.

Snow porn is another prank, practiced seasonally, as folks construct giant obscene forms and pose with them. (You get the picture.)

So what’s next for plankers and other pranksters? Responsible adults are almost afraid to ask, perhaps hoping the planking craze will simply go kerplunk.

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