Millions of Minions

I’m going to go out there and say it – I fucking hate the Minions by now. What had originally been adorable yellow jelly beans waddling around the background of an enjoyable kids film has become a marketing campaign drawn to ungodly lengths and bloated into such disgusting proportions, there were actually people in a position of wealth and movie-making authority who said “You know what? Give them their own film”. Minions have outstayed their welcome, their yellow cyclopean forms appearing on lunchboxes, phone cases and even underwear for children and adults alike and honestly, I think that has ruined what charm they had and exposed them for what they always were – the most marketable and palatable bland shite in the entire Despicable Me franchise. I’m disproportionately annoyed by these talking tic-tac twatbags so allow me to vent for your amusement, if you so please.

In the original Despicable Me films, the Minions served the purpose of comic relief, side distractions to keep the kids paying attention to the film and appealing to the goldfish mentality of some audiences. Face it, if a film isn’t constantly gripping you, you can drift off, change channel or relegate it to background noise whilst you do something more interesting like Angry Birds or picking your nose. I enjoyed their role, adding a little laugh between scenes but never taking the spotlight for very long, serving more as means to an end for a joke. The focus was always on Gru and his girls, the more interesting characters who needed to be developed and had stories to follow, the Minions are just comedy fodder. However, starting with the second film making Minions central to the end scheme of the antagonist, the Minions began taking more of the limelight away from Gru, a character I actually like (A loveable baddy-turned-daddy that punches sharks in the face? I love it) and soon enough, Despicable Me 3 isn’t a thing but the Minions get their own film? Who gives a film to a mass of moronic herd-like creatures that can’t speak a coherent language? That sounds like a formula for UKIP: The Movie!

The Minions put me in mind of the now faded in obscurity characters of the Rabbids from Rayman, background characters from a Rayman party game that became so popular due to their stupid antics and lack of clear communication, they got their own game and lo and behold, the magic surrounding them faded and soon enough they exhausted every joke in their arsenal, only to be swept under the rug and Rayman resumed his post as the big money in that franchise (Which they rebooted to wipe the memory of Rabbids from the continuity and good on them for doing so, new age Rayman is brilliant stuff – a comedy platformer combining nostalgia with innovation). I wish Minions would go the same way and maybe they will but for now they seem to be firmly stuck to the shelves, the world of cinema and our social networks. Why? Well, I have some ideas.

So the Minion design is minimalistic and interchangeable but with some iconic features that instantly make them stand out as part of the brand – goggles, tic-tac shaped body, funny sounding babble – this makes them characters we can easily modify and project onto, such is the way of lasting marketing characters. Compare the Meerkat uses this same effect, put a meerkat in a shirt and tie, it’s Sergei, put it in a smoking jacket, Alexander, onesie, Baby Oleg, you get the picture. This allows your audience to play with your logo, to cling to it and use it as they see fit and whilst they think they’ve come up with something clever, cute and original, from a marketing standpoint, they’ve basically declared “I am a mindless consumer of your cut-and-paste crap”. Minions have leaked into memes, philosophical quotes, heck, Minion porn is a thing, look it up… NO! WAIT! SHIT! DON’T DO THAT! They’re just easy to use, easy to draw, easy to customise and appealing to the “I’m so quirky” type adults and the “I like to eat crayons” type children. A well designed brand is exactly that though, a simple symbol you can slap on anything and people know what it is – Marvel’s logo, McDonald’s logo, Nike’s logo – something small and easy to recognise so people see what its slapped onto and consume it with the ravenous hunger of a zombified dachshund.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Minions, I thought they were fun but they were fun in small doses, they’re comic relief, not central characters. Minions are a side order to the meal of a good film, you can have a bucket of mashed potato and call it a meal if you want but how many of you would really do that, especially when you know the place serves some decent steak or whatever you prefer this metaphorical menu to serve. There shouldn’t be a Minion craze as there is but here it is, an easy way to tramp stamp any fucking thing it touches. I just find it to be such a poisonous inescapable influence, I’d have to unfriend almost every friend on my social media accounts to escape their yellow smug faces tacked onto posts like “Every family has a crazy one. If you don’t know who, it’s you” or “I could be a Monday person if Monday didn’t start until 2PM!”, you know the types, the ones shared by the likes of Debbie or Laura, she says size matters because nobody likes small glasses of wine and she’s a right proper random bitch lol… Shudder. Maybe I’m a horrid miseryguts who doesn’t see the appeal of these jovial jellybeans any more for his shit-tinted shades he wears all day but to me, they outstayed their welcome and their quirks became annoying and I do not believe they ever deserved their own film (Which is a contrived mess of puerile gimmicks clearly meant only to entertain children, I understand it’s intended for children but making shit films and excusing them as being for kids is something so irritating to me, it’s a blog post in itself)

Okay, anger dispelled, can we just collectively ween ourselves off sticking Minions on every shareable picture on the internet and agree that if this trend won’t end, let it live on as another Despicable Me film, not Minions 2. Seriously, how cool would it be to see the girls grow up in Gru’s footsteps? Have a kiddie friendly Charlie’s Angels style romp with Gru’s kids and work some Minions into that somehow. I’d watch it.

DESPICABLE ME 3 – GRU’D AND EVIL. MAKE IT HAPPEN

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Things I H8

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout and mentions of sexual assault

I’m going to start by saying I’m a feminist, if you hadn’t guessed already – I didn’t always understand the cause of feminism growing up, saw stereotypes and took my impressions of the cause from them until I decided to dig deeper and then realised that feminism isn’t a bunch of angry housewives wanting to beat men to death (not at the core, there are a few bad eggs but hey you get Buddhist marauders so…) but in fact people of all walks of life standing for equal rights, to have a world where everyone, at the most base level of human rights, gets the same treatment. I couldn’t agree more with this cause, we should all be equal because until I see a definitive reason one human being is greater than the rest (i.e born with a fucking halo) then you know, we should just try to get along as equals, be we gay, bi, trans, man, woman or none of the above

FCKH8 recently resurfaced in the attention of the masses with their ‘feminist’ advert, yes advert, in which little girls dressed as princesses drop the effing f-bomb like there’s no fucking tomorrow. Watch it to understand this article it’s easily found on YouTube. Now, I’m not against swearing, I curse like a sailor with his dick in a vice when I want to, swear words are so interwoven with our society as a whole that children swearing comes as no shock to me personally but to a lot of people this advert was a slap in the face, an affront to their senses as pretty girls screamed that they weren’t damsels in distress. Ok, so on the feminist front, it’s great that one message of this advert is that girls are not obliged to conform to the princess trope, that women aren’t helpless prizes to be won for a man’s achievements but the real problem with this advert isn’t the foul language, it’s everything else about the advert and just a heads up, this gets dark

I have an issue with using children to push products and messages they don’t understand, these girls are helpless, not because they are girls but because they are children being manipulated into shameless advertising. Sure, a third of the proceeds from the shirt sales goes to charity but that is not saying much if, out of your donation to a charity, only 33% actually goes to the cause and 66% goes towards everything else. Speaking only for Oxfam, as someone who works for the charity, we keep less than 20% of the money for running our business and the rest goes straight to fighting the spread of Ebola, supporting people affected by the conflicts in Gaza and so on and so on. The message is insincere, these aren’t the little girls defying the trope, these are little actors reading a script. Why not just ask these girls “Do you really want to be a princess?” and then have some girls saying that they’d rather be doctors or police officers or something that is generally considered a ‘male’ profession. A bunch of eight years olds swearing and reading statistics off a prompt just sends the message that they’re being pushed, sure they seem fine with it but that’s the thing with being manipulated, you never actually complain about being manipulated. Why not use adults? Why must we face the ‘shock’ of exploitation? The message is for adults, children don’t have pay inequality issues (yet) so using kids to talk about it undermines the sincerity of the message as little more than a stunt

Actually, that rolls onto my next issue with the advert, the statistics. Setting aside the obnoxious cocky tones that just further the stereotype of the angry feminist, there are mentions of rape, with the statistic that one in five women are the subject of sexual assault and one girl then asks in an eerie tone “Which of us will it be?”. You’re fucking ten years old, you shouldn’t be worrying about that. I know children can be victims of such assault but we shouldn’t be making them consider that at such a young age, gathering them in groups of five and then asking them which one they think is gonna get it first. Sexual assault is a serious issue that needs to be tackled but this isn’t the way to do it and the fact this adverts gives these girls the impression they are unstoppable forces of nature that should demand respect means that heaven forbid they ever are the victims of such assault, they will blame themselves because if something stops the unstoppable, the unstoppable doubts itself. You shouldn’t build someone up like that because it won’t hold water and they’ll be the victim when it all crashes down. I thought I was the greatest, turns out I wasn’t, I loathed myself and even now still have doubts about myself.

The advert, which is what it is, is a shameless debauchery of the cause, cementing the idea in people’s minds that a feminist is a foul-mouthed pissy little girl criticising men for having dicks. Saying fuck in a dress is not feminism and this advert is not empowering for anyone. Would you have your kids watch the advert? No? So the kids learn nothing. Do you feel empowered watching children swear at you? No? So you learnt nothing, other than FCKH8 is a penny-pinching organisation confusing anger and rage for justice. I mean, take the name, clearly meaning to read as ‘Fuck Hate’. Fuck it? Yes, nothing resolves hatred like hatred and heck, this organisation has always had trouble with it’s messages – seeing bisexuality as a cross between gay/straight, having very little to say for trans* equality, insinuating that effeminate gay men are the ‘best’ representatives of their cause – but an attitude of petty acts and outlandish anger just sells the greater cause short. FCKH8 is to the LGBT movement is what Farage is to British Politics – the noisy idiot that makes everyone look bad and makes us turn away from the whole affair.

In summary, feminism is not anger and rage and swear-words, it is simply wanting equality for all and though the name starts with ‘fem’ it is not about angry women ruling the world and castrating us all from birth, it represents the interests of us all. FCKH8, you did not relay a positive message by exploiting your children into selling your crappy confrontational t-shirts, you just embarrassed people trying to make a difference