When it comes to film, people usually favor good over evil, focus on the protagonist and ignore the supporting characters. But when it comes to the Minions, these conventions go right out the window.
Originally comedic background characters in the Despicable Me franchise, these yellow pill-shaped screwballs, including Stuart, Kevin, and Bob among others, have totally stolen the show and turned into a pervasive meme.
This summer the characters debuted in their own self-titled movie in theaters abroad, having the second biggest opening weekend of all time for an animated film, according to USA Today. Recently, McDonald’s has been including Minion toys with kids’ meals in some regions, causing loyal fans to flock to the restaurant to collect them all. Related video games, apparel, toys and other merchandise are sweeping the world.
The movie’s huge popularity even surprised its writers. “We never knew the Minions were going to be so popular. It just became a force of nature,” the film’s co-writer Cinco Paul told the Los Angeles Times.
So, what makes the banana-loving Minions a big hit? For many, the appeal is obviously their cuteness. Their simple, graphic nature can easily transcend cultures and age groups. “Even children can draw them,” Los Angeles Times reporter Rebecca Keegan wrote. Thousands of examples of fan-made Minion art, from fingernails to Halloween costumes, are visible on global social media platforms.
But there’s more to the phenomenon than just cuteness. US entertainment website HitFix explains that their way of communicating makes the creatures infectious as well. They largely speak in nonsense words peppered with the occasional recognizable terms like “potato”. But it seems everyone can understand them through their exaggerated movements and expressions.
More importantly, their childlike mannerisms and brazen stupidity is a brand of humor that wins hearts. “Clumsy, foolish and helplessly herd-oriented, the Minions are the ultimate beta personalities,” wrote Peter Debruge of US entertainment magazine Variety.
更重要的是，小黄人孩童般的举止以及蠢萌的行事风格，形成了他们独有的幽默品牌，从而赢得了观众的心。“笨拙、愚蠢、无可抗拒的群居倾向，小黄人代表着一种终极的懒散性格，”美国娱乐杂志Varity的记者Peter Debruge写道。（a beta personality (或者 type B) 是指那种喜欢无压力自由自在生活的人，而alpha personalities (type A) 人群则通常从成功和被认可中得到快乐。）
They desire nothing more than to serve their most despicable master, Felonious Gru. And this evil characteristic strikes a chord with humans.
“Perhaps we love Minions because they remind us of ourselves,” Huffington Post associate Web editor Sara Boboltz wrote. “Or an evil-henchman version of ourselves.”