Minions: New Voice of The Internet?

Minions are everywhere. Surely, you’ve seen them. The adorable gibberish speaking monsters? creatures? aliens? things? from the Despicable Me movies. They’ve taken over movie theaters, McDonalds… and our HEARTS? To say that the public is obsessed about these little things is a huge understatement. But I must be honest. A couple weeks ago, I had no idea what they were. It wasn’t on my radar.

Then I started seeing things like this on Facebook:

minionblock

What the what? I was confused. I knew they were from a movie but not much else. I investigated and asked friends about it. “They’re so cute!” “They’re hilarious.” “They’re the best!” “What do you mean you’ve never watched the movies?!” Some weekend media binging later, my husband and I were caught up. We even went and watched the new movie. They are cute and hilarious.

But… how did they become the voice of the internet?

I mean, I understand how they came to meme status. (Quick explaination of memes: when the internet makes something like an inside joke, often using pictures and text, it’s called a meme.) Minions share a lot with the fabled LOLcats of years ago. They’re cute and loveable in the eyes of most people. They have no color or creed or affiliation. They don’t speak any specific language, so you can project whatever you want on them. They are anything to everyone.

towleycomp

Except for some crucial differences… Minions are a symbol of friendship. They are friendly creatures. Cats are aloof loners who would gladly stab you to pieces and burn down your house, if they had the thumbs to do it. They “cannot haz friends”. Minions do, which is why the memes above all have a friendly tone. (Except that one that one caters to the mischievous crowd. But you know the comments on that one were all, “OH TAG CHERYL! THIS IS SO YOU”.) Minions are also LIKE people. Being humanesque makes it easy to project ourselves onto them.

And finally: they’re well known and (because of how popular children’s characters work) they’ll probably be around forever. Before, when Grandma would see something on Facebook like a LOLcat, she’d be confused. “Why is that cat talking in broken English about a hamburger?” But as soon as someone posted this to her Facebook wall:

miniongramps

All of a sudden, Nan is like, “aww Abigail was just showing me this on the TV!!!!!! IT IS WONDERFUL THANKS FOR SHARING KISSES XOXOXO NAN PS SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS I CAN’T TURN THEM OFF”

So the Minions are your mom’s LOLcats.

I will say, though, that I’ve seen some odd spinoffs of this meme. Like, for example, the art featured above is someone’s handcrafted derivative of a minion because they needed ones that looked like grandparents. Okay. And then there’s this:

strongminion

I have so many questions. I know why this is a sentiment that resonates with people, but:

  • why does it exist? like who was like, “I’m going to type this up, it’s IMPORTANT”
  • why slap a picture of a minion on it? the subject matter has so little to do with it
  • is the minion thinking about strong, beautiful women?
  • why not put a picture of a STRONG, BEAUTIFUL WOMAN on it?
  • what’s with the wonky justification on the font? (now I’m just being nitpicky)

I know, I know. The answer is “because internet”. That’s how these things work. You get something influenced by something influenced by something else and then we’re down the rabbit hole looking at something like this:

minionswearswhy

I’ve seen a lot of things come and go the internet. Especially little image based fads. Is this one a keeper? Maybe for a certain demographic. I certainly don’t see it going stale anytime soon.

But it is still pretty weird.

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Clickbait is terrible.

I considered writing this post and naming it, “When I see the way article titles are written now, you’ll never BELIEVE my reaction!!!” (Which is annoyed.) But I didn’t want to be a part of the problem. You see, an emerging trend in the realm of digital media/journalism is to have a headline that doesn’t actually reveal what an article is about. You’ve surely seen these online. Let me give you an example I’ve made up:

Newspaper Headline: Food Drive Collects Record 500 Pounds of Goods

Clickbait Headline: When they asked for help, the response had me IN TEARS!!!

The newspaper headline lays out exactly what you’re getting into. The clickbait headline doesn’t tell you the who/what/where/when for a very specific reason: they want you to go to their website. They want to lure you in or trick you into going to their website, so they can show you ads and track your information and get you to like their Facebook page, etc. etc. That’s why it’s called ‘clickbait’. It’s a lazy, deceptive, and gross practice. You’re being misled.

I understand that we’re in a time where people are giving away content basically for free and that ads are paying for the hardware and people that brought me the video of a puppy and baby who are ~best friends~. But often the website bringing you that information via a clickbait headline didn’t make it. They’re just dropping in someone else’s video or a link to a news story where someone else did the legwork. They just slapped it up on their site and passed it around Facebook with their crummy headline. I just think that there’s got to be a better way to go about this. Like producing quality content that will drive people to your site. Partnerships. Anything else. Just make it worth my while to click by telling me what I’m clicking on!

There’s one I just saw on Facebook that had a headline like, “Her dog died due to a TRAGIC mistake. The killer could be at home!” Awesome. Let’s scare people into going to your website. By the way, the dog ate sugar free gum with Xylitol in it, so be careful and keep an eye out for that. It’s harmful to dogs. I just want you to know because it’s important and useful information, no clickbait needed.

There’s a twitter account I love called @savedyouaclick that’s directly fighting against this by doing the same thing I just did and spoiling the headline.

You’re an angel, @savedyouaclick.

I wish I had a more proactive ending to this post, like a suggestion of how to better monetize your website so you don’t have to be a skeezy guy with clickbait headlines. But the reality is that it’s a much bigger problem than one person can fix. All I can do is appeal to the people writing these things and say, “Please don’t be that guy.”