“Don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk.”
– Sir Isaac Newton
According to Wikipedia, the origins of the maxim “Don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk” (DFtFoaND) can be traced back to Sir Isaac Newton, who uttered the famous phrase when engaged in an apple bobbing contest. That doesn’t sound right but if Wikipedia says so it must be true. Sigh, Wikipedia has destroyed my ability to think for myself and independently verify information.
Of course more recently we remember this phrase from a TV commercial featuring former Kazaam star and basketball legend, Shaquille O’ Neal. Shaq says DFtFoaND as a password to gain entry to some sort of mysterious slam-jam showcase lair, shortly before throwing down a nasty dunk that destroys the backboard and impresses some older b-ball fogeys. The commercial was culturally significant on many levels (what’s more significant than seeing stuff splode + get blowed up, and having famous people telling us what shoe to buy?), but perhaps most important was the introduction of DFtFoaND into our vernacular. Clearly the phrase was awesome – but what does it mean to fake the funk, and how does one avoid doing so?
Much has been written on the topic. Scholars have debated its true and exact meaning, but this much is true – faking the funk in its most general sense means to try to be something you’re not. Faking the funk is exuding a bravado that is not commensurate with your qualifications. It’s being phony-baloney.
Sure the phrase has a more direct meaning in basketball parlance (when you slam-jam, do so with authority, or do not attempt a slam at all), but for those of us unable to perform a nasty dunk, or even so much as a mild dunk, there is still much to be gleaned from DFtFoaND. The takeaway from this wise phrase is to just be yourself, and to do your best.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not, don’t worry about trying to impress others. That’s the essence of DFtFoaND, and a tremendous piece of life wisdom.