Sunday, July 5, 2015

Normals, Unhappy Mutants and Happy Mutants

What is a happy mutant? Simply put, one who is fond of new ideas and high weirdness, with a DIY sensibility to make their own fun with the power of their brain; not to be confused with Normals and Unhappy Mutants:
Sea-Monkeys, a real man-modified miracle of nature!
(note: link includes embedded auto-playing video)
  • Normal (neophobic sixpackus), folks concerned about "fitting in" and stability. But give 'em a good shock and behold! Mutation!
  • Unhappy Mutant (neophilic pessimisticus), seek new experiences of a dark sort, miserable folks who reinforce their miserable attitudes. If they crash and burn, they might swing back and become 'born again normals'.
  • Happy Mutant (neophilic optimisticus), also seek out new experiences but of the opposite end of the spectrum, desiring novelty of the gleeful sort. But without sufficient infusions of new, their grey goo could turn dull and normal.
Further examples of these different classes of creatures:

Stuff They Like
Happy Mutant Normal Unhappy Mutant
Brazil Sleepless in Seattle Faces of Death
They Might be Giants Janet Jackson GG Allin
The Happy Mutant Handbook The Bridges of Madison County Apocalypse Culture
Silly Putty Golf balls Nunchakus
Basil Wolverton Leroy Neiman Joe Coleman
Church of the SubGenius Church of Elvis Church of Satan
Sea Monkey Irish Setter Scorpion
Twister Checkers Russian Roulette
Archie McPhee Lillian Vernon Amok
"Why Be Normal?" "I'm with Stupid" "Charlie Don't Surf"
Pranks White Collar Crime Scams

How have these examples of Happy Mutant hijinks aged? In 1996, when this review of the Happy Mutant Handbook was written, the review might have seemed like some zesty breadcrumbs on an exciting trail into a great unknown, with the Handbook itself serving as a collection of teaser trailers for the even larger mysteries of the wider, weirder world out there. But with the ever-expanding internet, as seen in the links above, more of this kooky kind of novelty is just a click away!

Some of this is still fresh, with Brazil retaining it's place as a cult classic, while some have ebbed and flowed, like the comeback of They Might Be Giants as a "nerd-rock institution." According to the current overview on Wikipedia, bOING bOING had a maximum circulation of 17,500 copies, then transitioned from zine to website in 1995, dropping the zine all together in 1996, and it has grown and changed since then. The Church of the SubGenius also lives on, like an endless supply of sea monkeys, which oddly aren't available from Archie McPhee, the thriving internet store of weird and wonderful items.

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