Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Planking becomes a political protest statement

Students plank at Palma Hall, University of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of the UPIO

I have seen people plank but as Wikipedia says it is just fad, or even a prank, or even an art form that draws attention. Some commentators have called it idiotic, but now one Filipino lawmaker wants it banned for compromising public safety!

Plankers want to plank in the most unusual of places. Then the photo is uploaded onto a social network platform like Facebook. But a few people have been killed in accidents for doing so.

But lately, Filipino students have planked in a usual place like Espana Blvd in Manila as a protest against budget cuts to the higher education sector by the Noynoy administration. Lying on the pavement is not a novel way of peaceful and confrontational protesting. In Mike de Leon's film Sister Stella L, there was a scene on the picket line where the strikers and the nuns laid down to prevent scabs from entering the factory. But that was not planking. "Die ins" were common in the 1980s, when protesters rallied against nuclear weapons. But that isn't planking. A die in is not an Internet fad like planking is.

And it appeared planking was effective in getting their message through even if it annoyed motorists. But in die ins, police drag the "Dead" and bring them aside to clear the way. The "dead" as in dead, can't resist and this is the protest statement! But how can they drag a plank? Planking may have a stronger political meaning that similar kinds of protest actions!

The filing of a bill banning planking is the silliest response. Why would anyone lessen the space for PEACEFUL PROTEST? Since planking is first and foremost and artistic statement, one can expect other similar forms like owling and teapotting to emerge and they already have. What next, ban these forms?

Congress may ban these forms until we are left with this

The President should inspire a new form of Internet fad cum protest!

Which is the inspiration for PeNoying. And once the militants and the rest of the citizenry get fed up with the PeNoy and peacefully PeNoy, I am certain the government will resign!

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