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Why Minions Went Viral

I’ve been asking myself for a long time what made minions from the movie series Despicable Me get so out of hand in merchandise and web presence. With the third movie soon coming out this topic could get a lot of attention. People tend to be in one of two categories: they love minions or they hate them. But, why Minions? There are plenty of slapstick sidekicks in cartoons but none have blown up to quite such proportions. There’s a lot of them, they aren’t identified as individuals, and they don’t talk, but until they became mass-produced cringe inspiring merchandise, they contributed a heartfelt dynamic to the family image in Despicable Me and that’s now been forgotten. Did they catch fame so quickly because of their central role in the movie or was it just their slapstick humor that caught people’s attention… or was it something more subtle? From memes to merchandise Minions are presented as androgynous. Is this what made them so marketable? A non-gender creature appealing to anyone? In a world with so much gender controversy, maybe Minions were the solution to a time full of uncertainty and a need for PC? Study the marketing strategies presented for Minions, and perhaps on a anthropological level, explain their success.

  • I think either Ralph Sepe or IHE (Youtubers) may have covered this in their Minions videos. It's partially based on the simplicity of the character design that emphasizes 'cuteness,' and the nonsense-speak achieves a similar result (I know they speak Spanish occasionally, but they also say fruits or whatever; it's not a language). Gender....really has nothing to do with it. Lightning McQueen was pretty marketable, as was Frozen's Olaf, and both were clearly male. And I doubt the Minion-loving crowd cares about anything being PC or not. [They have traditionally-male names/mannerisms anyways, I don't know how you drew the androgynous conclusion?] I'd definitely like to hear the gender-argument you're proposing, but I don't think it's built on solid ground so far. But like, definitely prove me wrong because I love analyzing kids' movies (Sorry if that sounded aggressive; if so, it was unintentional). – m-cubed 5 years ago
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  • I agree with m-cubed that I don't feel like their lack of stated gender really did much. I also agree with the points the aforementioned Youtubers made about simplicity both in design and in their nonsense speak. I think "mass-produced cringe inspiring merchandise" might be a little too heavy-handed since it veers on personal opinion (even if I agree). I think looking at why they inspire so much hatred in particular might also be interesting. If I had to wager I believe it's a counter-culture attitude. When something is so all consuming in products, media, and, in the minion's case, social media it generates an over-exposure annoyance. This "annoyance" I think was made worse due to the fact that their content is rather culturally base. It's nonsense speak and slapstick, which are pretty low on the cultural totem pole and thus easy to hate if you are outside the common denominator. By distancing themselves from this cultural phenomenon, it was seen as a statement of having higher standards and taste above the lowest level of the "cultural totem pole". – LondonFog 5 years ago
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  • Yes, you are both really informed on this (as I'm not, I didn't look into it ahead of time and just threw this up because of the trailer). Anyone who takes this article shouldn't get caught on the androgynous thing, it really was just a call for an article going into why they were so mass-marketed and why the reactions to them were so strong in either direction. Taking already analysis into synopsis and adding to them would make a fine easy piece of writing to get views for the upcoming film. – Slaidey 5 years ago
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  • I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Kevin is a male minion. – Tigey 5 years ago
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