Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
Every single day I’m noticing references to Sea Monkeys in the weirdest places…last night I’m watching the Planet’s Funniest Animals and they called some monkeys water skiing behind a boat “true Sea Monkeys.” Last week Tom Hanks and Jon Stewart discussed Sea Monkeys on the Daily Show. They’re being admired on “I Love the 70’s” and drunk on “The Man Show.” In short, they’re everywhere! Is Sea Monkey World Domination on the horizon???
I like to think that I have had some small part in this renaissance of Sea Monkey awareness…but that’s probably a delusion of grandeur. The number one question I am asked on a regular basis is “What are they?” Which is usually followed by a story of heartbreak in which the questioner didn’t get to have them as children and now rues the day he/she listened to his/her parents and didn’t send away the $1.00 for instant life. We are fascinated by the creatures…well, you probably know that as you are probably reading this right now with a tank teetering on the corner of your computer desk or workstation.
So the question remains, why are we so fascinated with — let’s be honest here — genetically altered brine shrimp? How did Sea Monkeys enter the collective consciousness and stay there when so many before them — pet rocks, Cabbage Patch Kids, Rubik’s Cube — have become only a distant memory. I have three theories:
- The word “monkey.” I think the creator did the smartest thing possible by changing the name from “Instant Life” to “Sea Monkey.” Monkey is a funny word…you have the idea of a monkey, which is always amusing as they cavort and caper and look a little too human at times for my taste, then you have the actual word monkey, which has the nice fricative (the hard “k” in the middle) and a “mmmmm” sound at the beginning.
- Nostalgia! Everyone over 25 remembers Sea Monkeys from the back of the comic books, and most of us remember being lured to send money, but prevented from doing so by overly zealous mothers. We feel as if we missed something that would have made our childhoods complete, and we seek to fill that void by owning Sea Monkeys now.
- They are alive. Unlike Tamagotchis and pet rocks, which only pretend to be alive, Sea Monkeys are frolicking little creatures who depend upon us for their lives. This is just plain fun, as we like animals.
Or I could be wrong…perhaps we just like them. I know that I do. I like all the parts of Sea Monkey ownership. I admit I initially got into them because of the kitsch factor, the mere idea of Sea Monkeys being enough to make me giggle, but I grew to love them as tank after tank took over my house. As I watched them come to life, live in the tank, create new generations of Sea Monkeys, I realized that they were more than a novelty toy…they were alive! They are truly portable pets — unlike fish tanks — and they demand very little — unlike my adorable dog who needs attention 24 hours a day!
Maybe I’m overanalyzing here — I’m in a very analyzing mood right now. Maybe Sea Monkeys are just cool and fun and interesting and lovable. Maybe there’s nothing more to it than an interest in animals and a need to have something to love. But maybe there’s more…..
Share your thoughts with the Sea Monkey Lady