In Defense of Minions

16 May 2016

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Even minions deserve the benefit of the doubt.

It was April 1 2016, more commonly known as April Fools Day. As I lay in wait for Donald Trump to announce his presidential campaign was a mere joke, another story popped up. A story of Google’s failed April Fools joke. That’s when I saw them again. The minions.

On April Fools Day, Google pretended to launch a new feature that would allow users to mute people in their email inbox. The image used as a symbol for this new feature was a minion dropping a microphone. This didn’t go down well with people who use emails as a way of communicating constantly for work, and for personal reasons.

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I’ve been thinking of writing something about minions for a while now but I always thought they had become irrelevant. That’s just the problem though. They’re never irrelevant.

Minions are everywhere, they never stop. It’s been almost a year since the movie came out but they still continue to invade the world of pop culture. Hell, they’ve literally invaded every aspect of human culture. I went to Vietnam in January and was haunted by the faces of minions in many a market. They are literally everywhere. This is probably why people hate them so much! But are the minions to blame for this? Should they really be the objects of the world’s rage? I don’t think so.

Minions have now become synonymous with everything bad in the world: greed, over-advertising, world-domination and the third movie in a beloved series. Urban Dictionary defines them as “the disgusting trash of the earth”. It is clear that the commercialisation of minions is ridiculous and has gone way too far, and that a movie all about minions probably wasn’t necessary. However, there is a purity to the minion’s humour that I believe is often hidden by the lunchboxes, world domination and McDonalds toys that have been spread in their name.

Minions as Clowns

Minions are the clowns of Despicable Me, the films in which they originated. They provide silly and unsophisticated humour that offers a release from the film’s actual storyline. This kind of stock character is an important part of the history of performance and entertainment. In the theatrical style of Commedia dell’arte there is commonly a group of clowns, known as the lazzi, whose main purpose is to perform silly skits throughout the play, which usually have nothing to do with the actual storyline. They might perform a song or a short segment of slapstick comedy to entertain the audience.

The parallels between the lazzi of Commedia dell’arte and minions cannot go unnoticed. People will often disregard the minions as characters that appeal only to children, when in fact they hark back to the very origins of performance and theatre. The kind of slapstick humour they partake in has been a popular form of comedy for a long time now and its merit should be recognised. Whether you compare them to the lazzi or a Greek chorus, Minions is a film that can easily be seen as a tribute to the original loveable clowns.

The People v. Minion Lover Zayn Malik

tweetPeople who do enjoy the minions are often vilified. On August 14 2015, Zayn Malik tweeted “I have minions on my jumper and there sick”, but it was not his grammatical blunder that earned an influx of criticism. It was his love for the minions.

These are just a few of the responses that Zayn received after this contentious tweet.

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I thought people were supposedly becoming more inclusive and understanding? Apparently not when it comes to yellow alien-like creatures. Minions are simple beings, just looking for an evil master to pledge their allegiance. They promote a healthy lifestyle with their love for bananas and never take themselves too seriously

The minions are part of movies aimed at kids and families. They’re just there to make people laugh. In a world where kids are ten going on twenty-one years old, minions are refreshing in their immature slapstick comedy.

Surely there are other things for us to focus our anger on! I would like to emphasise that these are fictional characters who have never done anything to harm anyone (I’m talking about actual people here not other animated characters) other than appearing on almost every single children’s clothing item in Target.

Yet people are happy to go out of their way to express hatred towards minions and friends of minions. The yellow creatures and their allies are constantly bombarded with hate! It seems to me as if hating minions is a bit of a trend. Do people know why they hate minions? No. But everyone else does so why shouldn’t they?

I think it’s time to get to the bottom of this.

Basically it’s all capitalisms fault

The most annoying thing about minions is, in my opinion, that they are everywhere. And is that the minion’s fault? No of course not. Firstly, they are fictional so they don’t really decide these things. Secondly, it’s the marketing team behind the minions that are to blame for their over-exposure.

People sitting in an office somewhere have decided to turn minions into clothes and birthday cakes and shoes. Someone even decided it was a good idea to combine minions and crocs. Because I’m sure aligning themselves with crocs did the minions any favours.

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When I see minions in the window of every second shop in a shopping centre it’s bound to get on my nerves. This over-exposure of minion apparel has ultimately detracted from the actual film Minions and it’s unique clown-like humour.

It is time to look beyond the excessive marketing and commercialisation and see the minions for what they really are. They are exceptionally random clown-like yellow cartoons that were actually pretty funny in Despicable Me and Minions. I’m not asking you to become their number one fan but merely that you are able to realise the value in their style of comedy and judge them for what they are, not what their overzealous marketing team have made them.

In the words of Zayn, #Don’tmesswithminions.


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