Do you remember the ‘90s movie “Shazaam” that stars the comedian Sinbad as a genie who appears to a pair of kids to help them deal with a tragic time?
If so, Sinbad’s kids say you might want to double check your memory on that one.
It “did not happen,” his daughter Paige Bryan told NBCLX. “Get over it.”
But if you’re “absolutely certain” you’ve seen Sinbad galavanting across the silver screen in a genie outfit with a duo of young kids who need some cheering up, you aren’t the only one.
Sinbad’s son Royce Adkins said even “people the closest to us who know everything about our family” have sometimes second guessed whether the movie exists.
So how can thousands of people across the world all have the same memory of a particular event or occasion that never happened?
No, it’s not a glitch in the simulation. It’s the Mandela Effect.
The Mandela Effect is “a belief that specific details from the past are being altered or changed,” explained Dr. Aaron French, lecturer in religious studies at University of Erfurt Germany.
The phenomenon is named after a common misconception that former South African president Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1990s even though he actually died in 2013.
The confusion around Mandela’s death and mistaken belief in the existence of the “Shazaam” movie are just two examples of these strange lapses in our collective memory.
Another instance of the Mandela Effect was sparked by the children’s book series “The Berenstain Bears.” Many believe that the spelling was once “Berenstein” but for some reason changed to “Berenstain” over time.
(While we’re on the subject of titles, is it “Looney Toons” or “Looney Tunes”?)
When Adkins and Bryan would first hear “Shazaam” theories, they assumed people were just confusing it with the movie “Kazaam” staring former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal
“My dad and Shaq—people confuse them all the time,” Bryan said.
Uh, do they…?
“Our dad has been mistaken for Shaquille O'Neal more times than makes logical sense,” she explained.
But even when that mixup’s not an issue, people continue to insist, Bryan said. “Now people will be like, ‘Oh no, I'm not talking about ‘Kazam.’ I'm talking about your dad's [movie].’”
Sinbad’s kids say one particular group is most obsessed with the existence of this film: fellow millennials.
Bryan said she was in her mid-20s when she started hearing the rumor for the first time. “All of a sudden my peer group was like, ‘hey, remember that movie your dad did when he was a genie?,’” she said.
Adkins said his father even tried to debunk the rumor by offering a cash reward amounting to thousands of dollars to anyone who could find a clip of the movie online. Of course, no one found anything. But not even that stopped the believers.
So what do Sinbad’s children believe started all the confusion? They have two theories. One is that people are confused by a character he played on the ‘90s show “All That,” who had a “very genie-ish” wardrobe, according to Bryan.
Adkins also recalls a “Sinbad the Sailor” special where he was dressed in what one might consider “genie clothes” and thinks perhaps people see images from that that as evidence of “Shazaam.”
But even when faced with facts, people don’t want to be told they’re wrong. When they debunk the “Shazaam” theory, people get upset, claiming the movie was “so influential on their childhood,” said Adkins. Strangely, Adkins said that in order to prove their point, some of these same people will later claim the “influential” movie was so bad that Sinbad wanted to get rid of it.
“Those things aren't adding up.”
While the pair are tired of the “Shazaam” disinfo being spread, they’re pretty understanding of what can lead people to misremember, having themselves sometimes experienced the same event with two totally different memories of what happened.
“What is our truth definitely plays a role in how we recollect something,” said Bryan.