As we bid farewell to Comic-Con, let it serve as a precarious leaping-off point for some playful technological speculation about what we don't know and the increasingly blurred world between fact and fiction and Hollywood and politics and whether "reality" is an endless media cycle of chaos, war and death or a crazy-quilt wag-the-dog matrix of corruption, crimes and audacious lies. Or both.
There is no question that the government's development of technology that is classified and secret is years ahead of what the public uses and is aware of. People take it for granted now, but the Edward Snowden revelations showed a vast technological network far past what the mainstream imagined possible. Surely the same is happening across all fields involving technology breakthroughs.
The huge Aug. 2013 exposé of the government black budget in The Washington Post claimed it was $52 billion, which almost surely means it's at least twice that. Or ten times that. Who knows? But even if we take that figure at face value, and figure in the usual corruption skim, it's still a pretty significant amount of money.
My personal favorite off-the-grid fringe theory—which, oddly, I see has joined snopes.com—is that a whole separate category of technology has been developed from the work of Nikola Tesla, creating the ability to bend space and time and creating "The Mandela Effect."
The Mandela Effect is a term created in 2010, recently enough that it's not ingrained in the language and fascinating to explore because its sudden Snopes appearance shows there is a battle waging to define what it even really means.
The Establishment definition of The Mandela Effect is a mass confabulation (Wikipedia), or "glitch" (Snopes) in a significant segment of the collective memory, where numerous people have shared recollections that are different than available evidence.
But that's not the original definition, most certainly not what the person who coined it meant it to mean. The Mandela Effect was first noted and the term created by paranormal researcher Fiona Broome in 2010, who said that she and many other people had memories of Nelson Mandela dying in the 1980s in prison. There were so many who felt this way that Broome theorized that there had been some kind of shift between parallel worlds for many people, either all at once or over time.
The Mandela Effect as supernatural occurrence had fringe conspiracy appeal but didn't attract much notice until Nelson Mandela actually died in 2013, when suddenly a whole lot more people realized they thought he'd died in prison in the 1980s, too.
From there, more and more "glitches" in the collective memory were "discovered," or at least theorized by conspiracists—the big one that helped propel The Mandela Effect beyond the fringe was the "Berenstain" vs. "Berenstein" Bears controversy: whether the famous children's book series had changed from the latter to the former in a glitch that stemmed from the parallel world shift.
But as more and more of these oddities in mass memory mix-up popped up, The Mandela Effect was on the verge of moving from fringe to cult to mainstream. An active Subreddit page began noting examples of The Mandela Effect, some of which garnered large mass memory (or mis-memory) agreement.
Personally, most of them I was able to shrug off, even when I had the same grinding memory that didn't agree; I thought it was Berenstein, but whatever.
But with Comic-Con in town I had a few curiosities, so I was scooting around on the Internet to see if there was anything going on with the James Bond franchise, which is in flux after its star Daniel Craig had exited the role. While searching, I saw reference to something else, a Bond-related Mandela Effect that is the first that has really shaken me.
I saw Moonraker at least three times in the theater. It's not a good movie (though the most successful 007 at the time), but I was that age. I've seen it a couple times on TV or VHS in the years since. It features the return of Jaws, a huge hulking freak show of an assassin with metal teeth. But at one point in the movie, he meets a nerdy, busty blond beauty, and they bond because she's got braces and metal teeth, too!
It's a rather stupid gag, and even as a teen I remember thinking so. It's a notoriously bad gag from the Roger Moore years, to the point where her braces have been noted in film reviews and the obituary of Richard Kiel, the 7-foot tall actor who played Jaws.
Except now, as has been noted across the Internet, the nerdy, busty blond girl doesn't have braces anymore. She has bright white shining teeth. I went to the library, got out the 2007 remastered DVD. No braces.
It's not just me who is blown away by this. I asked Roberta Lipp, author of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book. She too was flabbergasted by the "disappearance" of the braces.
It makes no sense for the braces to be gone, both visually from memory and as movie plot device—the braces are the reason the beauty bonds with the beast, it makes sense organically to the plot and it's a visual gag to boot. I know this is not a confabulation in my head and several other people have backed me on it.
Of course, this can't be a parallel universe and there's got to be a more likely explanation. The braces were digitally removed somewhere along the line, but why? Were the producers afraid it made the character look underage? That it made her look less attractive? I have no idea.
But this is something that deserves further investigation. I've reached out to EON, the producers of the Bond franchise, to get some kind of answer but not yet heard back. Because if a bunch of us are living in an alternative timeline bounced via black budget operation gone awry, I'd like to know about it.