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May 22, 2011 / tietze

Edgar Walters Cables: Planking

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22/5/2011 6:10
CONFIDENTIAL//NOGORN

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SUBJECT: EARLY RESPONSES TO PLANKING

Classified By: Ambassador Edgar Walters, Reasons 1.7 (b) and (d) and (s) and (m)

SUMMARY ——-

1. (C/NG) Despite its apparent non-existence as an activity of any sort several weeks ago, the recent phenomenon known simply as ‘planking’ has exploded across the globe, claiming in its fallout any remaining vestige of integrity the modern news media may have alleged to possess. Considered the quirky habit of a Facebook-obsessed youth until popularised by the death of Brisbane planker Acton Beale, it is now a higher priority story than illegal immigration, NATO manoeuvres in Libya and the passing of renowned English character actor Edward Hardwicke combined. Speculation on the phenomenon’s staying power is rife, and it is already being considered a possible late inclusion in the line-up of events for the “oh dear, it’s Delhi all over again” 2012 London Olympic Games.

BACKGROUND ——-

Fig. 1

2. (C/NG) Minimal online research favouring Wikipedia and little else suggests that planking is a relatively new phenomenon in its current media-fashionable form, but that its origins lie in the 1990s British ‘sport’ known as the “lying down game” – a variant with a delightfully quaint name whose use, it is speculated, would make this fad marginally more appealing to some. Popular culture antecedents have also been discovered, per Fig. 1. Commentators describing themselves as “expert” in the matter of planking, for instance the CEO of the Venezuelan Recreational Planking Association, have sought to further justify their latest mindless interest by contextualising it in the historically acknowledged and faintly regarded pastime of pole sitting. (Fig. 2) Though no correlation exists, beyond the resting of one’s person on unexpected fixtures and appearing to exert minimal effort in the process, many planking organisations are adopting this scant justification for their existence. Indeed, the Bohemian chapter of the Tanzanian Plankers Unlimited collective have taken to arguing precedent on the basis of this tenuous link between the two activities. Said their spokesman on the 17th of this month, “It is the same as cheap horror films. They have not destroyed the very fabric of youth itself, nor had their predecessors horror comics or Penny Dreadfuls. The same is true of planking, a no more harmful social gesture than climbing a ten-metre tall polished metal pole with no safety equipment and sitting precariously atop it for hours on end.”

EDUCATION SYSTEM IMPLICATIONS ——-

3. (C/NG) Canvassing of educator opinion has yielded mostly negative viewpoints. When interviewed, LaToya Fyfe, teacher at Venerable Bede Secondary College in Wodonga, expressed her disgust not at the planking phenomenon, nor at the manner in which Acton Beale’s Darwin Award-nominated death was framed by the media as a devastating tragedy on the scale of recent Japanese seismic difficulties, but at the media’s ability to take an accidental death and successfully transform it into an unintentional advertising venture. “Before that boy’s inevitable demise, nobody at Venerable Bede had so much as heard of planking. By the following Monday, students were planking on desks, floors, even the construction vehicles parked near the new tennis courts we’re having built. It’s been more than a teacher with no behaviour management skills or command of her students can bear.” Other educators have mirrored Ms Fyfe’s expression of disappointment. Cronulla teacher Gazza Whiteskin was delighted to hear that several Brisbane students have already been suspended for planking at school. However, he quickly broke into tears. “It’s more than a disgrace, it’s an injustice. Nobody in Sydney is treating the situation with the seriousness and severity it deserves. What’s the world coming to when Brisbane becomes a world leader in anything?”

ECONOMIC FACTORS ——-

4. (C/NG) Economists are speculating that with matters beginning to ease post-GFC, particularly in Australia, the public at large have been seeking a replacement for bankers, letting planking fill a desperate need in their meaningless lives to crack puns about people whose behaviour and/or characteristics they sneer at with vitriolic contempt. Per: “A bunch of plankers”, “Planking is a harmless way to pass the time”, “You can even plank in your own bedroom”, and so on. Ever perceptive of the fleeting nature of faddish behaviour, producers of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s news comment programme Insiders have invested a large fraction of their forward production budget into determining a suitably rhyming single word that might describe acolyte of Satan and right-wing columnist Andrew Bolt.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES ——-

5. (C/NG) Further afield, planking is being investigated as the springboard for possible games development. Traditional games designer and Chief Design Executive of Glottal Stop Games, Frederick Nguyen, is exploring ways to cash in on the phenomenon. “What do all kids love?” Nguyen enquired rhetorically when approached by nobody in particular to speak on the matter. “Pirates! So it occurred to me to link planking with pirates!! And I came up with walking the plank!!!” When pulled away from his meaningless exclamations, Nguyen was unable to explain how his initial designs might be satisfactorily translated into the form of a profitable or indeed marketable consumer product. However, he was reported to be unnecessarily excited about the empty venture despite the gaping hole at its core.

HEALTH CONCERNS ——-

6. (C/NG) Androgynously named personal trainer Timothy Braun worked with Jason Woodpond, alleged originator of this new variation on the lying down game and certified smart phone obsessed moron. Braun claims that Woodpond has missed the point entirely. “The plank – or prone hold – is intended to strengthen core muscles by suspending the centre of one’s body between the supports of arms and feet,” he told unexpected political contacts with surprising eloquence for a gym instructor. “Lying face-down and prostrate on firm surfaces, no matter how inactively one’s limbs are held, achieves little beyond potential asphyxia.” Braun’s view is supported by several prominent members of the medical community, who have expressed concern at plankers’ sudden apparent desire to “forget to breathe” when their mouths and noses are pressed against hard surfaces. “It’s as if they think air isn’t important when there’s a solid mass in the way,” one doctor told his golf partner during business hours. Gregory Shutterbug of the Australian Half-Decent Photographers’ Association seconded this concern. In his recent statement to whichever local newspaper felt like printing his views, he remarked, “It’s times like this I’m glad the art of photography is in general decline. Were the accomplices of these acts more measured in their compositions, their planking subjects may well find suffocation a pleasurable option, given the time it can take to compose a truly excellent photo of a twit resting face-down on a randomly selected object.” Sales of slow-acting light meters and touchy zoom lenses to sadists are reportedly on the rise.

Fig. 2

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT ——-

7. (C/NG) Despite initial opposition to planking, in an astonishing turn of events, the inactivity appears to have gained bipartisan support. Both the Having a Good Sleep on Your Stomach Party and, perhaps surprisingly, the Jumping Up and Down Furiously Party have fully endorsed the practice, noting its therapeutic powers and its ability to distract people’s attention from what JUDF party leader Geoffrey ‘Hopalong’ Cassidy labelled “things that actually matter”. The comment was made as Mr Cassidy was seen boarding his publicly funded private jet for a post-Budget “political excursion” in the Bahamas. Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbot was secretly recorded (by a camera in plain sight) remarking, with typical snide alacrity, “I can’t wait for the day these kids come up with a game based on back-flipping. Julia would love it.” When queried why this might be the case, Abbot was heard to remark simply but ambiguously, “Because shit happens.”

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