Point and Counterpoint: Is Streaking Funny?
By Jennifer Garfinkel, The Dartmouth Senior Staff
Published on Friday, April 4, 2008
Explaining why streaking is funny is like explaining why people visit the leaning tower of Pisa. The answer is obvious and often taken for granted, but when you try to articulate it, there isn't much to say ("Um, because it's leaning...?").
But I have column inches to fill, so I'll do my best to defend the timeless art of streaking.
I will start by clarifying that streaking is not "haha," laugh-out-loud funny. Nor do I think it aims to be. I think streaking â€“ and streakers themselves â€“ aim to amuse, and to this end I think it achieves its purpose. We sit on Berry 1, buried in books, and at the sight of naked people we smile, maybe lightly chuckling to ourselves and feeling good deep down inside. Indeed, we are amused.
Let me begin at the beginning. There is the simple fact that nudity is funny. Naked people are funny. Penises are really funny (really, really funny). Perhaps the only thing funnier than a penis flopping around in the air is a penis flopping around in the air when you're trying to study.
Which brings me to my next point: the element of surprise. Streaking wouldn't be funny if it was a standard, common occurrence. We'd come to expect it and become quite bored with the idea pretty quickly. "Oh, people are streaking again? Yawn. Back to my econ reading." But instead you're engrossed in work, preoccupied with your approaching final exams, when you hear a low rumble of voices that grows into a cacophony of hoots and hollers. Before you can say "What the..." you look up to see a mass of students running at you in their birthday suits. Ha! What a funny surprise!
This is closely related to another reason why I'm pro-streaking. Seeing naked people where you don't ordinarily see them is inherently amusing. The juxtaposition of the stoic 1902 Room and flopping boobies just cracks me up. Streaking the Green at night? Not so funny. There's nothing to see. The absurdity of nakedness on a well-lit Berry 1? Very funny.
At the end of last term, I had the good fortune of standing at the bottom of the Novack staircase at just the right time. Finals were winding down, and although it was a calm time to streak the library (streaking is funnier when there are people around to actually see you), three senior men decided to streak the first floor of the library, ending downstairs in Carson. When they reached the bottom of the staircase, probably thinking they were home free, their leader tripped and fell forward, his naked body becoming one with the linoleum of Novack. Now that was funny. Falling on penises is funny (at least to people who don't have them). Being splayed on the cold linoleum of Novack â€“ nude â€“ is funny.
But there is a larger point here, which is that the potential for mishaps makes streaking funny. Or rather, the mishaps themselves make streaking funny. During sophomore summer, a few friends attempted to streak a sorority's tails event. They ran into the sorority house and found that the house was so crowded that they couldn't run through as planned, and instead nakedly waded through the traffic of mingling party-goers. They wound up having to crawl over couches to make it out alive. How funny would that be? Just thinking about it makes me laugh.
If nothing else, hopefully we can all agree that streaking embodies the spirit of Dartmouth. It is an age-old college tradition (think Will Ferrell in Old School), and it keeps our campus lively and exciting. To the streakers of Dartmouth: I tip my hat to you. Keep up the good work â€“ keep me laughing.
Jen is a staff writer for the Mirror and former managing editor. Our apologies to anyone who's ever fallen on his penis.