Xzibit tells plankers to do their history homework before laying face-down, forgetting that “pimp” hasn’t always referred to 28-inch chrome rims.
“Planking” is a polarizing activity; some, like myself, find it completely ridiculous and unfunny, but millions of pictures featuring individuals face-down, arms at their sides, stiff as a board, speaks for the mass popularity of the goofy internet meme. Celebrities from Chris Brown to Biebs himself have taken their own planking pictures, serving to legitimize the hours spent wasted by teenagers taking pictures of themselves face-down in the middle of a street.
However, every party has to have a pooper, and if you love to plank, “X to tha Z” Xzibit, host of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride,” will make you feel like a racist.
His frustration started simply enough on Wednesday when Xzibit tweeted, “Planking is THE dumbest shit ever.” I agreed with Mr. X and prepared to forgive him for creating some of the most economically inefficient cars known to man, but then he continued, “#Planking was a way to transport slaves on ships during the slave trade, its not funny. Educate yourselves.” Again, I agree with Xzibit that planking isn’t funny, but clearly for very different reasons.
Xzibit is referring to the method in which slaves were transported in the Middle Passage, bound with chains side by side to beds of wooden planks, resembling the “planking” position. The atrocities of this era go without saying. Xzibit’s inability to recognize a coincidence before a legitimate origin, it seems, require some explanation.
If you’re not familiar with Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner IV’s rap career, you may be more acquainted with the hit MTV show “Pimp My Ride,” in which people whose once-functioning vehicles have been reduced to rolling engines with half a driver’s seat get to see their cars rebuilt, repainted and filled with televisions, woofers and tweeters, hot tubs and robotic arms.*
These vehicles follow the motif of the ’70s-style “pimpmobiles,” in which diamond and gold-studded, full-length mink-wearing gentlemen used to cruise inner cities to monitor and collect money from prostitutes, or “hoes.” If said “ho” didn’t deliver enough money that day, the aforementioned pimp would issue a beating that became the predecessor of terms like “pimp hand” and “pimp smack.” The vehicles served as a bold declaration of a pimp’s status and occupation. Anyone who saw the glimmer of the purple candy paint driving by knew a pimp was behind the wheel.
The internet meme of “planking” refers to the craze out of Australia, a re-branding of the original “Lying Down Game,” created in 2006 by two friends Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon of the UK. The essence of the game became positioning yourself in the most unsuspecting places—as you walk up to a Redbox in Orlando, imagine your surprise seeing Dwight Howard planked across the top of it.
Nowhere in the history of the meme or its precursors did anyone mention the phenomenon’s relation to slave transport, likely because because it has no relation to slave transport. The only thing the two share in common is lying down.
While “planking” bears no reference whatsoever to slavery, Xzibit’s own show does, in fact, reference the prostitution industry. If “plankers” are to be called racist, Xzibit should also be called out for promoting the transformation of vehicles into chrome-spinning, hoe-filling land yachts. I respectfully reply to Xzibit’s outrage in his own words: “Don’t get it twisted. I care less where your dumb ass pimps rides, I’m just telling you where ‘pimp’ comes from.”
*Robotic arms only available on pimped-out ice cream trucks