Planking is the latest fad from the Land Down Under, but the excitement for it is drying up faster than the hoopla surrounding previous Australian exports like Crocodile Dundee and Uggs.
The queen of American planking has declared that the pastime is "uncool" just as enthusiasts gear up for the first Global Planking Day on May 25.
"It's probably already dead, because it was big last week," said Randi Sether, 25, of Philadelphia. "I'll be uncool if I do it next week."
For those who don't know about the craze, planking is an activity where people lie face down and stiff as a board in funny locations to have their picture taken, as shown in this compilation by the website Odee.
The hobby has hundreds of thousands of fans on Facebook where there's a daily supply of snapshots of cadaverous plankers face down in the street, on a tree branch or outside the Louvre. But it's unclear how many people actually constitute the backbone of this internet meme.
Planking entered the mainstream after extensive media coverage of an Australian man who died when he fell from a seventh floor balcony while attempting a pose on May 15, the website Newser reported. It became such a hot topic that even the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard piped in urging Australians to give up the activity.
"There's a difference between a harmless bit of fun done somewhere that's really safe and taking a risk with your life,'' Gillard said, according to the Guardian. "Everybody likes a bit of fun, but focus has to be on keeping yourself safe first.''
Days later, a 20-year-old Australian man was in a coma from a planking related accident.
Television stations in the U.S. turned to Sether to explain the phenomenon, because she publishes a website with photos of herself planking in places like Times Square and the Balagio hotel in Las Vegas.
"Before it was such a random thing and it would make people laugh," Sether said. "I see it as performance art. But it's lost its shock value."
It appears that planking is most popular in Australia, but its roots go back to England where it has a connection to the "Lying Down Game" created circa 2006.
Sether has planked from Los Angeles to Miami and admitted to taking risks for a good photo. In Dallas, she ran across a busy road and had her picture taken while she planked on the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated.
"It's sort of like your favorite band," said Sether, who started planking a year ago. "They were your favorite band before they were on the radio. Then they made a single that everybody likes and now they're uncool."
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