“It is usually boys who make farting a game or a weapon.”

Senior Editor
06.09.11 42 Comments

The story I’m about to relate isn’t movie related just yet, but I’m hoping a wise producer reads this and busts out his option checkbook. It’s about Penn State Doctoral graduate Trevor Blank, who recently won the WW Newell prize for his essay on, and I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life to type this word, “Fartlore.”

Blank won the prize for his essay, “Cheeky Behavior: The Meaning and Function of ‘Fartlore’ in Childhood Adolescence.”

Wait, did you say “childhood adolescence?”  Aw, dammit, and here I was all ready to be legitimized.

When it comes to farting, he said, “I’ve always been a practitioner.”
“Everybody farts,” said Blank. In the course of his research, he heard such myths as “Girls don’t fart” and “When girls fart, it smells better than boys.”
In case you were wondering, Blank can inform you that men fart 14 to 15 times a day, while women do so a mere eight to nine times.  I’ll spare you some finer points. You can thank me later.

Wait, what? F*ck you, smarmy writer guy, tell me about the farts.

Other tooting trivia: kids have been sent to the principal’s office for it, one was arrested for breaking wind “deliberately and maliciously,” and “Walter the Farting Dog” was banned in some school libraries, Blank said. [and once optioned by the Farrelly Brothers as a possible vehicle for the Jonas Brothers, believe it or not. -Ed]
For Fartlore, Blank (that’s Dr. Blank to you, now that he’s earned his Ph.D.) researched mentions of passing gas in children’s literature and then set out to explain it.
He found Pennsylvania boys playing “Safety,” a farting game, the same as Blank had as a kid in Maryland, and the same game John Bourke documented in the 1890s, when it was called “Touch Wood.”
Basically, a boy who farts must say “Safety” or touch wood before his friends say another key phrase. If not, they’re allowed to punch him. (It usually is boys who make farting a game or a weapon.)

Stop the Earth, that is my favorite parenthetical of all time.  I love it so much I’m not even going to make a “touch wood” joke.

He can rattle off stinker references in the TV cartoon “South Park,” and The Nutty Professor movies and tell you that in Medieval times, people believed the soul left the body through — well, you can guess.


He also brings folklore into the 21st century, mining the Internet for Bin Laden jokes and studying how culture is changing in the digital age. People say the anonymity of the Internet allows people to say outrageous comments, but so did the fax machine, he said.
While old schoolers say folklore is all about oral tradition, Blank is part of a newer wave of folklore that recognizes that the Internet simulates face-to-face conversations. [PennLive]

Oh, Professor Blank, tell me you’ve been reading FilmDrunk and listening to the Frotcast. It’s always been at the top of our mission statement to become the internet’s foremost, most Earthy and robust source of Fartlore.  Why, did you hear how the first night I met my co-host, Brendan, he told me how he’d eaten an entire bar of oatmeal soap, solely because he heard it would give him atrocious farts? A WHOLE BAR OF SOAP!  That’s farts as a game AND a weapon!  And what of fecal transplants?  My God, man, sit down, sit down, we have much to discuss!  And wait, did they say a doctoral graduate?  So would it be fair to call Trevor Blank… A FART DOCTOR?   MY GOD, THIS MAN IS MY HERO.

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