It’s canonically true that Minions have existed since the beginning of time. All 10,400 of them are immortal, and as put by Vox writer Phil Edwards, are “earnestly driven by the desire to serve an evil boss.” It’s often questioned whether evil so arises from nature or nurture, but in the case of Minions, they are quite literally born evil. In what is definitely just a coincidence, all Minions are male, too, by the way.
Despite this meaning that Minions would have, in theory, served every historical tyrant and been whispering “banana” on the sidelines of humanity’s worst atrocities, we can’t seem to get enough of them. Since the animated movie Despicable Me was released in 2010, society has been at the mercy of their oppressive, goggled gaze.
The more we try to wriggle free of their acidic, flaxen grasp, the tighter their grip becomes. In 2015, the solo spin-off family movie Minions surpassed $1 billion at the box office, with an upcoming sequel entitled Minions: The Rise of Gru set for a theatrical release in July 2022. Like Thanos, Minions are inevitable, and the invasive species have not just polluted entertainment: they’ve also taken over the internet. Here’s the story behind Minion memes.
chapter 1: minionmania
Our grandparents experienced Beatlemania. Gen Z lived through Twilightmania. As for our parents, they experienced Minionmania.
There have been many questions about which of the Minions’ masters was most evil, but to me, the answer couldn’t be more clear. Capitalism.
Minion t-shirts, Minion plushies, Minion backpacks… this kind of stuff was expected. Of course, Universal would’ve known that a cutesy, recognisable, and easily-replicated character would be a goldmine in terms of marketing.
chapter 2: the wine moms strike back
The supply of Minions may have felt absurd at times, but there was a demand: there was no single demographic more ravenous for Minion content than wine moms.
According to Urban Dictionary, “the main focus of a wine mom is to stay classy, share intriguing quotes, and to be the embodiment of Linda Belcher. The antithesis of Karens, wine moms, usually known as Sharon and Brenda, can be characterized by their “abnormally sincere” Facebook posts and memes.
Unfortunately, this “live, laugh love” mentality combined with Minions’ cutesy appearance served to be a match made in Hell, as it kick-started what one viral Tumblr post referred to as “Facebook mom Minion meme culture.”
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Cue the relentless flood of cringey, oh-so-silly Minion memes consisting of pictures of the little rascals accompanied by relatable quotes like, “Warning: Sleeping on Sunday night will cause Monday.”
chapter 3: the anti-minion movement
Of course, Gen Z wasn’t about to take this lying down. The only thing worse than being surrounded by Minion products in the outside world is to have them take over your feeds with jokes that aren’t just embarrassing, but quite literally don’t make sense.
What does “Wine-o-Clock” have to do with Despicable Me? At what point in the Minions movie did they declare that “a balanced diet is a slice of pizza in both hands”?
— Epic Minion memes (@EpicMinionmemez) June 23, 2022
It was oppressive. It was torture. It was mildly irritating. So, the internet did what it does best and turn the meme on its head. They did this in two main ways.
One way was by irrationally hating the creatures in the same vein as Meena from Sing 2 or the baby from Ice Age, with subreddits like r/minionhate and Twitter accounts like ‘I HATE Minions‘ both growing by the thousands as these teens sought out solace.
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The other way was to turn the Minion mom memes into a surrealist meme within themselves, mocking and imitating the format via post-ironic meta-memes.
chapter 4: post-minionism
Just when we thought Universal had milked every last droplet out of the Despicable Me cash cow, the little Tic Tacs inexplicably returned to our public consciousness and menstrual products with Minions: The Rise of Gru being announced.
The difference is, however, we have already dealt with one global pandemic. We’re ready this time. We live in a society. There is no light, no humanity, and there is no life after death. There are only Minions.
This is why the sigma males among us, the “humble yet dominant” man at the very top of society’s food chain, are all rocking up in droves to see the movie in theatres.
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At least, that’s what the memes say. After all, they were serious about liking Morbius, right?