You cannot deny that Mean Girls is one of the best movies that ever came out in the early 2000s. The movie is filled with hilarious quotes that you will never forget. Life would not be right without Mean Girls.
Anyone who has ever misplaced an item or gotten in a feud about what really happened at the last party they attended can affirm that sometimes our memories can be unreliable. Misremembering an event is by no means unheard of or uncommon, but what if it was not just you who misremembered that event. What if a whole bunch of people misremembered the same exact thing even if there is no evidence to support it?
If you were a kid or teenager growing up in the '90s, you might remember a movie called ‘Shazaam’ with popular television comedian Sinbad playing the principle role of a genie. As the plot goes, two children (a pre-teen boy and his younger sister) find a genie in a lamp and decide to use their wishes to restore love to their single father’s life. It is a comedic tale involving the genie and children who use their three wishes for domestic activities, often failing comically. The culmination of the movie takes place at a pool party related to the father’s work in which the children successfully use their final wish to make their father happy. What a marvelously cheesy ending!
Some of you reading this might be nodding, recalling having watched this movie, and you are not alone. There is a large community of people who can remember quite vividly watching this movie with their friends and family. So what seems to be the problem? Well, the movie ‘Shazaam’ does not exist, and it never has. The rumor of its existence has gained so much traction that even Sinbad himself had to set the record straight on Twitter.
You can scramble the Internet and old video stores nationwide, but you will not find any proof that there ever was a movie named ‘Shazaam’ with Sinbad playing a genie. If you are at all dismayed by this fact, you are not the only one.
An ever-growing number of confused '90s kids have flocked to the Internet to adamantly insist that there was indeed a movie called ‘Shazam,’ and Sinbad was definitely in it. Just peruse the countless threads about it online, and you will find that there are hundreds of people who can provide their own accounts of having seen the movie. Most people agree that the movie was released in 1994 and concur with the supposed movie plot described above.
How is it that so many different people can all recall specific details of a movie that does not exist? The ‘Shazaam’ case has come to be known as a famous example of the "Mandela Effect," a term coined by author and researcher of the paranormal, Fiona Broome, creator of mandelaeffect.com, which is defined as “a collective misremembering of a fact or event."
The name “Mandela Effect” came from the most famous case of the Mandela Effect involving the shocking amount of people who believe that former South African President Nelson Mandela died while in prison, when the truth holds that he was released in 1990 and died in 2013.
Another famous example of the Mandela Effect is the common misremembering of the Bible verse Isaiah 11:6. A large amount of people, including many priests who were interviewed, will swear that the verse reads “The lion also shall dwell with the lamb...” but pull out your trusty Bible and the correct verse is “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb.” This verse discrepancy makes many Christians uneasy because the protective image of a lion is replaced with the crafty and destructive image of a wolf. Some even believe that the verse change is a sign of the existence of the antichrist.
There is even scene in the 1941 movie ‘Sergeant York’ in which the character Gracie walks past an old man in a rocking chair who recites the Bible verse using the lion, which has many people firmly insisting that the correct version includes a lion, but that something in recent history has caused it to be changed.
Some examples of smaller instances of the Mandela Effect are the common misrememberings of the name of the classic animated TV show, “Berenstain Bears” (most people remember it as “Berenstein Bears”), the existence of a dash in the brand name “KitKat” (there has never been one), and other misspellings of logos.
Many conspirators believe that the Mandela Effect is the result of a jump between parallel universes in which slightly different alternate realities exist, but Snopes.com, a famous reference website dedicated to documenting and debunking urban legends, has offered some more logical explanations for instances of the Mandela Effect.
“A leading psychological theory holds that memory is constructive, not reproductive,” Snopes says, “— i.e., the brain builds memories out of various bits and pieces of information on the fly as opposed to playing them back like a recording. Memories aren’t pure. They can be distorted by any number of factors, including bias, association, imagination, and peer pressure.”
For example, the common misconception that Nelson Mandela died in prison might be a case of a faulty connection of two isolated facts —(1) Nelson Mandela went to prison and (2) Nelson Mandela is dead. Or with the Berenstain Bears, it is quite rational to believe that people just assumed that the name was spelled “Berenstein” because that is a far more common spelling of the name.
So what about ‘Shazaam’? A reasonable explanation is that people are simply mistaking it with the 1996 movie ‘Kazaam’ in which Shaquille O’Neal plays a genie and helps a teenage boy who happens to have a single mother (similar to how the children in the alleged ‘Shazaam’ had a single father).
Additionally, other shows and movies at the time could further muddle people’s memories. There was a movie called ‘Legend of the Seven Seas’ with a character named Sinbad the Sailor and a Hannah Barbera cartoon called ‘Shazzan’ about the adventures of a genie and the two children (a teenaged boy and girl) who released him.
There was even a sketch in the wildly popular Nickelodeon show “All That” about a foreign exchange student dressed in genie-esque garb, and who was the actor? You guessed it...Sinbad! It seems perfectly reasonable that all of these similar media products could easily mix together after a certain amount of time, causing mis-memory that has been perpetuated by all of the hype on the Internet.
Another explanation that can be layered on top is the idea of 'memory conformity,' which states that people can remember events that they were told about or that were described to them as if they had experienced those events. In this way, many people may agree that they remember something that happened simply because someone else said it was so.
This may be a perfectly acceptable and scientifically logical explanation for the strange occurrence, but the plot thickens. When the theory was presented that people were simply mistaking the movie ‘Shazaam’ for ‘Kazaam’ and the like, the people who claimed to remember ‘Shazaam’ pushed back, vehemently claiming that they were well aware of Shaq’s movie ‘Kazaam’ and were certain that ‘Shazaam’ was a separate movie that preceded it. One woman named Meredith who was interviewed on the subject claimed:
“I remember thinking Shaq’s ‘Kazaam’ was a rip-off or a revamp of a failed first run, like how the 1991 film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ bombed but the late ’90s TV reboot was a sensation...I am one of several people who specifically never saw ‘Kazaam’ because it looked ridiculous to rip off ‘Shazaam’ just a few years after it had been released.
Additionally, there was a reference to 'Shazaam’ on a TV show called ‘A Different World’ (1987-1993) in which Sinbad played Coach Walker Oates. In this scene (appearing in season 5 episode 13) the character Freddie is trying to hide a scarf with the initials “SZ” on it that she is making for her boyfriend, Shazza Zulu, from her friends, but when they discover it and ask what “SZ” stands for, she responds that it “could be for someone who loves Shazaam.”So do you think the Sinbad movie is real or an urban legend?
I know I'm not the only one who struggles to find something new to watch after re-watching my favorite TV show for the 100th time in a row! I did some digging through Netflix's archives so that you don't have to!
Here are 11 awesome flicks to watch next time you have trouble deciding:
1. "Ex Machina"
Domhnall Gleeson stars alongside Alicia Vikander in this Sci-Fi/Thriller film. It's about Gleeson's character, Caleb Smith, who is instructed to determine whether Ava (Vikander), the humanoid robot, is actually capable of true thought and consciousness. A romance develops between Ava and Caleb, and they form a plan to try and free her from the lab and her creator.
One of the most iconic cult films of all time, Winona Ryder plays Veronica, one of four girls in her Ohio high school's popular girl clique. The film gets its name since the three other girls are all named Heather: Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara. Despite their extreme popularity, they are hated and feared by the rest of the student body, which is how they retain their prestige. When J.D. (Christian Slater) starts at their school, he and Veronica develop a special bond, and he tries to help her take the Heathers down a few pegs...by trying to kill them and anyone else who gets in their way.
3. "The Waterboy"
On a more positive note, "The Waterboy" is a comedy starring Adam Sandler, who is a waterboy for college football teams down south in Louisiana. When Bobby Boucher (Sandler), is fired from his position with the Cougars, he goes to work for the Mud Dogs, a team who has a 40 game losing streak. Bobby's talent for football is uncovered, and the film follows him as he tries to play successfully while keeping it a secret from his disapproving mother (Kathy Bates).
Based on the Stephen King novel, the film on Netflix is a recent adaptation, done in 2017. It follows a farm family from Nebraska where father Wilf, short for Wilfred, murders his wife Arlette and dumps her body into a well after she voices that she wishes to sell their farmland and move to Omaha. He does so by enlisting the help of their son, Henry, but when Wilf starts to see apparitions of his dead wife, things move swiftly into a downward spiral.
5. "The Sixth Sense"
This film helped to put director M. Night Shyamalan on the map, particularly for his surprise ending (which I won't reveal, so don't worry, no spoilers here!). Bruce Willis plays the child psychologist Malcolm Crowe, who is helping young Cole Sear, played by Haley Joel Osment, a young boy with the ability to see and speak to the dead.
6. "Blue Valentine"
Ryan Gosling fans, where you at? The Canadian film sweetheart stars in this romantic tragedy opposite Michelle Williams, where they play a couple whose marriage is falling apart, while, in flashbacks, also portray the pair years before when they were dating. Michelle Williams plays Cindy, who is a pre-med student, and Gosling plays Dean Cianfrance, a high school dropout. This film also earned both Gosling and Williams nominations for Golden Globes!
If you haven't heard of "Boyhood," let me break it down for you. This modern coming-of-age film gained tons of notoriety leading up to the 87th Academy Awards since the film took 12 years to create! The reason for this is that the director, Richard Linklater, chose to use the same actors all the way through, so the viewers would actually see the young boy growing up. For any film junkies out there, this is one of the best examples of modern neorealist film, and another current example of this style is Alfonso Cuarón's film, "Roma."
8. "Dr. Zhivago"
One of the most unique things about this film is its length! Clocking in at 200 minutes (3 hours & 20 minutes), this film takes place starting pre-WWI and follows all the way through the Russian Civil War. Omar Sharif stars as the title role, Yuri Zhivago, opposite Julie Christie, his love interest, a married woman named Lara Antipova. The movie details the way Zhivago's life is changed through this time with the wars. It is a beautiful and bittersweet love story that shows how much war changes the lives of everyone in its wake. This is also the film adaptation of the book "Doctor Zhivago" by Russian novelist and poet, Boris Pasternak.
9. "Good Will Hunting"
Considered a classic by many, "Good Will Hunting" is well-known for its all-star cast, which includes Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin Williams. It tells the story of Will Hunting, a hidden genius who works as a janitor. His brilliant mind is discovered after he is forced to see a therapist as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. The therapist Lambeau (Williams), is also a math professor at MIT, where Hunting is a janitor, and he is the one who realizes Hunting's capabilities.
10. "Mona Lisa Smile"
"Mona Lisa Smile" takes place in the early 1950s, at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where we follow the new professor of art history, Ms. Katherine Watson, played by Julia Roberts. Her students are snobbish girls who try and test her, being a new professor, and though reluctant at first, Watson proves up to the challenge. We also watch the lives of Betty Warren, Connie Baker, and Joan Brandwyn as they struggle with their identities as young women who were raised to be nothing more than a housewife and mother.
11. "The Graduate"
Ever hear an older woman referred to as a "Mrs. Robinson"? Well, this is the movie where that hails from, as well as the son by Simon & Garfunkel. Dustin Hoffman plays new college graduate, Benjamin Braddock, who is seduced by his parent's friend, the married Mrs. Robinson, but who ends up falling in love with her daughter Elaine, who is Benjamin's age. It also earned Mike Nichols the Academy Award for Best Director in 1967!