The INSIDER Summary:
• Some people are convinced there’s a movie titled “Shazaam” starring the comedian Sinbad.
• The movie never existed.
• It might be a mass delusion called the “Mandela Effect.”
• But Reddit users refuse to give in, and think it’s a mass conspiracy.
If you fondly remember the early-1990s film “Shazaam,” starring the comedian Sinbad as an incompetent genie who tries to help out two young children — then you are wrong.
Not because the movie isn’t good, but because it never existed in the first place.
As Amelia Tait reported in The New Statesman, hundreds of people on the internet are absolutely certain they have seen the movie “Shazaam.” And yes, they know about the 1996 movie “Kazaam” starring Shaquille O’Neal as a genie. They’re certain “Shazaam” is something else. In their minds, it’s a twin movie, another movie with a similar plot that came out around the same time.
But there is no evidence “Shazaam” ever existed. Sinbad himself (whose real name is David Adkins) is certain he never starred in such a movie.
The mass delusion over “Shazaam” has been attributed to the Mandela Effect, which is an idea that people have mass-misrememberings. There isn’t yet any scientific literature that backs up the Mandela Effect, but it’s similar to the idea of “confabulation,” which is when people unconsciously distort their own memories.
The most famous example of the Mandela Effect is over the Berenstain Bears. A lot of people remember the name being spelled “Berenstein,” with an “e,” when it’s actually spelled “Berenstain” with an “a.”
Some maintain that the name was changed to make the series sound “less Jewish,” but hardcore Berenstain fans will remember their television Christmas special. And anyway, the series was written by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
Just like the inaccurate “Berenstein Bears,” people have been misremembering “Shazaam” for years. The earliest online evidence of the mass delusion, according to Tait’s excellent article, is a 2009 Yahoo! Answers thread: “Wasnt there a movie in the early ’90s where Sinbad the entertainer/comedian played a genie? I know ‘Kazaam’ had Shaq in it and that’s not the one I’m thinking about. Help it’s driving me nuts!”
Then, five years ago, Reddit user MJGSimple swore it was a conspiracy: “I swear this movie exists, anyone have a copy or know where I can find proof!” And later on, a discussion over the nonexistent movie stormed into a subreddit dedicated to the Mandela Effect.
The delusion is widespread enough for some people to think that we’re all living in a computer simulation, where actors beyond our imagination are modifying the timelines of our reality.
“University of Oxford’s philosopher Nick Bostrom suggested that members of an advanced civilisation with enormous computing power might decide to run simulations of their ancestors,” one Redditor told Tait. “In a day where we can now run these simulations, is this a far-fetched theory?”
Since Tait’s article about “Shazaam” and the Mandela Effect was published, some Reddit users still aren’t convinced.
“Don’t give these anti-Mandela Effect articles traffic. They don’t deserve our pageviews and advertising clicks,” a user names Axana commented.
Another user, named sugarleaf, has a theory that the movie’s alleged producer Phil Hartman buried “Shazaam” because it embarrassed him.
“Phil Hartman (who allegedly produced this) died around the same time [the movie came out] and was considered a LEGEND in Hollywood,” sugarleaf wrote.
But most people are dismissive, believing that people who think they have seen “Shazaam” are mixing up Shaq and Sinbad because they’re both black.
Reddit user theworstvacationever may have said it best: “I’m really surprised that a bunch of Redditors, when confronted with a simple misunderstanding concerning which non-white person starred in a movie, would insist that the fabric of the universe was altered rather than admit they are wrong.”
You can read Tait’s article on the Mandela Effect and “Shazaam” here.
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