Imagine Darth Vader snarling "Luke, I'm your father." Or picture Captain Kirk saying "Beam me up, Scotty." Some pop culture moments are so iconic that they've been burned into our nerd brains forever. Except that neither of those things ever happened. Sure, the stuff we remember is pretty close, but for whatever reason, we twisted the real stuff up, and rephrased and reworked it in our brains until we hear the wrong lines being delivered. And there's more ...
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Do a Seinfeld impression. Did you start it with "What's the deal with ___?" Of course you did. That's his whole bit. Seinfeld coined the line early in his standup career as a means to ridicule life's banality, which he then parlayed into a comedy series, which he then parlayed into more money than God's accountant (c'mon, you know that guy is skimming).
But no, in his nearly 40 years of standup, Seinfeld has never started a joke with "What's the deal with ___?" So why can you picture it so clearly? There's good reason for the confusion. Seinfeld did say those words, but as a parody of bad observational comedy. He first uttered the infamous phrase on Saturday Night Live in 1992. In the sketch, Seinfeld hosts a game show, and contestants are asked to explain "the deal with" various comedy cliches, such as airline food, 7-11 employees, and Gilligan's Island.
Maybe people missed the "parody of hacky comedians" aspect with Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler onstage.
The sketch was meant to lampoon the dozens of pastel-blazer-clad hacks who began lurking around comedy clubs in the wake of Seinfeld's success. Seinfeld also used the phrase as a self-referential bit on his sitcom, like when his character purposefully tanked his set with jokes like "What's the deal with cancer?" The problem was that the parody worked too well -- we all crossed it up in our minds, and now only remember Seinfeld as the kind of hack he mocked. He is his own worst enemy. We assume he cries himself to sleep about that every night on his giant bed made out of exotic cars and unicorn feathers.
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Sinbad is best remembered for his breakout appearance on Star Search, those commercials where he played a sassy latex condom, and of course, that classic movie where he played a genie. You can picture him now: poofy genie pants, too-small unbuttoned vest, like some kind of weird little ... wish ... hat? Or wait, was it a TV show? Was there, like, a black I Dream Of Jeannie at some point? That's a very good question -- one that has been asked many times, from Reddit to Yahoo Answers.
But no, Sinbad never actually granted anyone's wish.
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Except for when he seemingly disappeared in the early 2000s.
There was only one terrible actor who played a black genie in the '90s: Shaquille O'Neal, star of Kazaam. Some think we're simply confusing Sinbad with Shaq, which is honestly ... not that forgivable at all. Shaq is an actual giant; Sinbad is merely a giant of comedy.
When asked about his nonexistent genie role during a Reddit AMA, Sinbad answered: "It was SHAQ SHAQ SHAQ. But we all look alike." Except one of them is literally twice the man of the other. That can't be all there is to this, right?
Which is exactly what people said five minutes into Kazaam.
Maybe not: The fictional Sinbad the sailor did interact with the occasional genie. Combine that with the comedian's often-cringeworthy attire, which could only be explained by him being a magical creature who has never seen a real shirt before, and maybe we all made the logical assumption that this black man clearly grants wishes.
You remember Curious George, the charming little monkey who endlessly terrorizes his owner, the insane banana cowboy? You can picture him, right? Dangling by his tail from a shelf or something, tauntingly holding the Man in the Yellow Hat's insulin barely out of reach ...
"Your body is going to be buried right over here."
But something is wrong with that picture. And it's not just the murder monkey. See, Curious George never had a tail. You're not alone in thinking he did; many people swear they recall seeing him with one. He's a monkey, right? He has to have a tail ...
Or does he?
Virtually every single species of monkey has a tail, while apes do not. Yet the tailless George has been repeatedly called a monkey by several reputable sources, including the theme song of his 1980s TV show, and his creators, who referred to him as a "little monkey." So if he's a monkey, why no tail? Did he lose it while dog-fighting? Catch it in a revolving door? Chew it off after the Man in the Yellow Hat finally caught him in one of his many snares?
Paper cut in a tragic boat-folding accident?
Well, when George was created, it was acceptable to refer to several different types of primates, including apes, as monkeys. So back in the day, everybody called him a monkey, because honestly, who cares, and we later mentally filled in the tail. But all this time, he's been an ape. A savage, bloodthirsty, ether-addicted junkie ape. No, really. The only thing he's curious about is how much your kidneys go for on the black market.
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The show I Love Lucy is about the interracial marriage between Cuban-born musician Ricky Ricardo and his wife Lucy, played by registered communist Lucille Ball. Throw some goodwill toward black people into the mix, and you should have the most hated show in '50s America. But nope, the audience loved all those wacky minorities!
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There was even the controversial episode where Lucy did work outside the home.
Every episode followed roughly the same formula: Lucy schemes to get into her husband's act, her plan backfires, and the exasperated Ricky says his classic catchphrase: "Luuuucy! You got some splainin' to do!"
A line that was never spoken by the character. It's been referenced by Mad TV sketches, song parodies, articles, multiple websites which list the best quotes from the show, and so on. Everyone in America used to watch I Love Lucy, and yet they all "remember" a line that was never in the show.
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"Luuuucy! What's the deal with ..."
Most place the blame on a journalist who misquoted Ricardo early in the show's run. See, reruns weren't really a thing in the 1950s, making it difficult to fact-check the line. Combine that with a pre-internet audience which didn't yet know to question the integrity of journalists at every turn, and one of the most famous TV non-quotes was born.
You know the classic scene. Lassie's owner Timmy falls down a well -- again, the clumsy dipwad -- so it's up to the dog to go get help. And then: "What's wrong, girl? Did Timmy fall down a well?" The trope is so ubiquitous that it's been parodied in movies, TV shows, video games, comics, and probably even avant-garde mime theater. The actor who played Timmy even titled his memoir Timmy's In The Well.
Lassie's memoir was called If I Did It: How Timmy Kept Falling In The Well.
But in all 571 episodes of Lassie, Timmy never, ever fell in a well. Don't get us wrong; that idiot tripped into literally everything else -- abandoned mines, a badger hole, quicksand, love -- but never a well. The whole bit, as well as the concerned authority figures who could suddenly interpret dog, all came from later parodies. That is honestly how dumb we are as a species. If you make fun of something that never happened, we'll assume you're right and remember it that way forever. Just like that time Donald Trump got his dick stuck in a Jacuzzi jet, and they had to cut the tip off to free him.
Check out Patrick Coyne's blog for more stuff he done.
For more things we think we know but is all just a bunch of brain garbage, check out The 5 Most Statistically Full Of Shit National Stereotypes and 4 Things Everyone Remembers Happening (But Totally Didn't).
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