The famed comedian Sinbad, who plays Lil Rel Howery’s father in the upcoming Fox sitcom “Rel,” has dozens of credits listed on IMDB. But it’s the one not there that is perhaps his most infamous — though if you ask Sinbad about “Shazam,” he knows exactly what you’re talking about. “It came out of nowhere,” he told IndieWire, laughing. “And nobody knows why.”
The short version of one of pop culture’s weirdest memes is as follows: A few years ago, a growing number of people began to believe that at some point in the 1990s, they had seen a movie called “Shazam.” Not the upcoming Zachary Levi superhero comedy, though — a completely different film, starring Sinbad.
It’s one example of a phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect, which was recently the focus of an “X-Files” episode from Season 11. As Mulder and Scully discussed in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” written and directed by Darin Morgan:
Mulder: It’s the Mandela Effect.
Scully: What do you mean?
Mulder: When someone has a memory of something that’s not shared by the majority or the factual record. For instance, there are some people that have a memory of seeing a movie called ‘Shazam,’ starring Sinbad as an irrepressible genie, even after it’s pointed out to them that they’re probably thinking of a movie called ‘Kazaam,’ starring Shaquille O’Neal as an irrepressible genie, especially ’cause a movie called ‘Shazam’ was never made.
The phenomenon first came to Sinbad’s attention about five years ago, which he feels gets passed down between siblings or parents to children: “It’s always the same thing — it’s either a bigger brother or younger sister, or a younger brother and younger sister, or a mother and daughter or a father and son. They all remember it,” he said.
Here’s what matters: He has seen “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” and when he saw Mulder and Scully discuss it on “The X-Files,” he realized that the phenomenon was now too real. “That was crazy, that we made it to that level,” he said. “That means I can’t fight it any more. I’m going with it.”
This means, he said, that if someone does find a tape, “I’ll cop to it.” But, he also noted, “if they find the tape, I’ll trip out.”