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Because of Parkinson’s (also known as “Michael J. Fox’s Equation”) is a series of facetious mathematical equations centered around the well-known Canadian–American actor and his ongoing battle with a condition known as Parkinson’s disease. Despite the offensive motif that runs within the joke, it became a widespread phenomenon on image-sharing communities like YTMND and 4chan.
Michel J. Fox is an Canadian–American actor and activist most well-known for his role as Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy. In 1991, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a condition marked by motor dysfunctional symptoms like shaking and slowness of movement. Since unofficially retiring form his acting career in 2000, Fox has been focusing his energy towards fundraising for the cure of Parkinson’s disease.
The first instance of Michael J. Fox’s equation was posted by YTMND user thebroken on September 23rd, 2005. Titled “Michael J. Fox Gettin Jiggy,” the site featured a headshot portrait of young Michael J. Fox wobbling from side to side set to Will Smith’s 1998 rap single “Getting Jiggy Wit It.”
Between 2006 and 2009, over 60 derivative YTMND sites were created, one of the most viewed examples being “What is Fox?” uploaded on October 28th, 2006. By the end of the year in December, the insensitive mockery of Michael J. Fox’s condition reached /b/ (random) board on 4chan, where a slew of one-liner jokes emerged in a fashion similar to Chuck Norris’s facts. Most of the jokes have been archived by Encyclopedia Dramatica and Macrochan:
Michael J. Fox’s cellphone is always on vibrate. Because of Parkinson’s.
Michael J. Fox accidentally erases everything he draws on an Etch-a-Sketch. Because of Parkinson’s.
Michael J. Fox is now placed on bottles of Yoo Hoo instead of Shake Well. Because of Parkinson’s.
Michael J. Fox has an oscillation rate of over 9000 movements per second which allows him to oscillate against the natural rate of 88 movements per second creating a quantum flux, which is what makes time travel possible. Because of Parkinson’s.
As the jokes continued to spread on 4chan, a notable variation soon emerged as an image macro series commonly named “Michael J. Fox’s equation.” The equation template consists of two images--one of Michael J. Fox and an object (ex: Milk)--which are combined together to produce a third image that pokes fun at his condition (ex: Milkshake).
The image macro series also became popular on YTMND in 2007, spawning a number of derivative sites like “Michael J. Fox Plus Fork,” “Michael J. Fox Plus Duff,” and “Michael J Fox Plus Cake” among others.
Appearance on Oprah
In his book “Always Looking Up: The Adventures Of An Incurable Optimist” released in 2009, Michael J. Fox reveals the details of his everyday life and the difficulty of performing mundane tasks like brushing his teeth. The actor-turned-author also cracked a joke about his condition, saying that upside of his disease is the uncontrollable, jerky movements that turn any regular toothbrush into the most powerful electronic brush.
Michael J. Fox has been portrayed in multiple episodes of the popular animated series Family Guy, in which many iterations of “Because of Parkinson’s” jokes have been used. On May 4th, 2008, Michael J. Fox starred as a voice actor on Family Guy’s season 6 episode “Long John Peter” in which his character is portrayed as Zorro who scribbles his insignia due to the trembles associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
On September 11th, 2011, the comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm aired an episode titled “Larry vs. Michael J. Fox,” guest starring Fox as himself. The episode featured a number of jokes on the topic of Parkinsons, including a scene where an annoyed Fox gives Larry David a shaken soda drink, claiming it was due to the illness.
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