Staring contest  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A staring contest (or blinking contest) is a game in which two people stare into each other's eyes and attempt to maintain eye contact for a longer period of time than their opponent. The game ends when one participant intentionally or unintentionally looks away. A popular variation of the game exists in which the participants not only attempt to maintain eye contact, but also must resist the urge to blink; creating a physical challenge as well as a psychological one. Most other variations revolve chiefly around either of these two core objectives, with some prohibiting virtually any action but staring (laughing, making a face, winking, nodding, talking, touching, bobbing, etc) and others allowing the aggressive use of these same actions to force an opponent into defeat.

Staring contests in popular culture

A semi-regular sketch on Late Night with Conan O’Brien featured Conan having a staring contest with his sidekick, Andy Richter. The contests would start normally, but then absurd scenes would take place in Andy’s line of sight just over Conan’s shoulder. (For example, a woman with deflatable breasts or Hitler planting a flag on the moon.) The scenes would get increasingly bizarre until Andy either laughed out loud or flinched in horror, breaking eye-contact and losing the contest. During his final show before he moved on to pursue other projects, Andy finally won a contest after people playing Conan’s parents and grandparents appeared in Conan’s line of sight, stripped naked and started making out.

A popular sketch on Saturday Night Live features Will Ferrell as a parody of Robert Goulet, having a staring contest with an artificial ram.

The 1993 comic strip Return of the Taxidermist in Judge Dredd Megazine includes stare-outs as one of several unlikely Olympic sports, others including taxidermy and sex.

In one Garfield strip we see Garfield staring at a goldfish in a bowl intently, until Jon tells Garfield that 'fish don't have eyelids'. In another Garfield comic strip Jon and Garfield have a staring contest in which Garfield wins.

A Toy Story Treat featured Sheriff Woody challenging Lenny (a pair of toy binoculars with eyes but no eyelids) to a staring contest. After great effort, Woody loses and comments ""Oh, you're good!"

In a Muppet Sports segment on The Muppet Show, Klaus Mueller is shown at the end of an 87 hour staring contest against a tree. The tree loses.

A recurring sketch in the first series of comedy show Big Train featured a hand-drawn stare-out competition (the "world stare-out championships") accompanied by commentary (voiced by a professional BBC sports commentator, Barry Davies), based on a comic book by Paul Hatcher and animated by Chris Shepherd.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Staring contest" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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