The Mandela Effect
Roger Moore died recently.
He may not have been the “best” Bond, but he was my Bond, the one I grew up with.
My parents used to take me to his movies regularly, and it was always a thrill. The iconic, deadly cool theme music, the risque opening in which you could kind-of-and-kind-of-not see naked women, and then the whole camp fantasy of being a handsome and unflappable spy– it was all immensely appealing to a boy on the cusp of puberty.
Kind of like a Wes Anderson film, the Bond movies starring Roger Moore were a child’s vision of the adult world — a comic book fantasia made manifest, but one that promised to be safe, free from the dreary weight of all the unimaginable day-to-day realities that lay ahead.
I was 13 when Moonraker came out. Jaws, a lurching behemoth with steel fangs, was the primary villain, and he was awesome. At the end of the film, after Bond had coasted to victory and Jaws was pulling himself out of the rubble of some foiled plan, a tiny blonde– busty, pigtailed and bespectacled– appeared to help him. Jaws turns and smiles, his metal teeth glinting, and she smiles back. It’s love at first sight, and they then exit into some charming and eccentric future together.
What I remember, and what everybody I have asked remembers about this scene, is that the woman ( Dolly) had braces. This was what connected the two. In spite of their size difference, they were soul mates in braces. It was the sort of thing a 13 year-old kid, the type of kid who might actually have had braces, and that the movie was trying to appeal to, instantly related to. All of us watching, in the midst of our tortured, monstrous throes of puberty, hoped to find a Dolly, too. It was something that resonated deeply and stayed with us.
Anyhow, in returning to the YouTube clip of the scene, I saw that it was clear that Dolly did not have braces.
I mean, I had been fucking positive she had braces.
This braces-less reality seemed utterly impossible to me, like discovering I was a Replicant and not a human at all, but there it was.
Anyhow, if like me, you remember Hannibal Lecter saying, “Hello, Clarice,” or Darth Vader intoning, “Luke, I am your father,” or Sally Field shouting, “You like me, you really like me!” while accepting an Oscar, then you have apparently experienced what I have just discovered is known as the Mandela Effect.
Now what the Mandela Effect is, is complicated, Internet complicated, and it’s layered in the sort of conspiratorial proofs that only online culture can provide.
Dive deep, if you wish:
Without tunnelling into the rabbit holes surrounding this phenomena, I will simply say that what clearly emerges from all this is that our memory, be it individual or collective, is incredibly unreliable. Sometimes, what we believe to be true, what we know in our bones to be true, what even our tribe agrees is true, is not true. Memory is mysterious, a product of our consciousness that is constantly being constructed and revised, existing as a work in progress rather than some immutable photograph we can reference at will. Everything is in flux, and the truth, as unpalatable as it is, is that we know nothing for sure, and are very, very easily manipulated. In the furious age of Trump, it’s wise to keep this in mind before launching a scorched earth assault on anything that might contradict our world view. We would all benefit from a little less certainty and a little more kindness, I think.