Gen Z and whatever generation arrives below them are too irony-pilled for marketing. Studios can try as hard as they like (see: the Morbius fan Discord server that has since devolved into chaos), but there’s just no predicting what these kids, who grew up seeing Shrek as both a masterpiece and an endless font of degenerate memery, will latch onto.
Look no further than the #gentleminions movement, now storming a cinema near you when all the other patrons should be bored mums and dads with their primary-school aged kids. If you’ve seen a group of impeccably well-dressed youths heading into your local multiplex, this viral joke may be the reason behind it.
What you’re seeing is large gangs of kids in their late teens dressing formally, buying bananas (because the Minions have been heard to chant the word “banana” ad nauseum), and steepling their fingers in a gesture of gentlemanly fascination as they watch animated children’s film Minions: The Rise of Gru. Each video is soundtracked by the trap song Rich Minion by Yeat, in which the protagonist brags about his minions/millions and expresses his dislike of Despicable Me villain Vector.
Naturally, Universal is bloody eating it up. A viral trend that boosts ticket sales for a demographic that should’ve aged out of the Minions‘ family-friendly babbling long ago? It’s despicably profitable.
For a bit of background, the #gentleminions meme seems to combine two existing meme formats that both speak to a pop-culture-poisoned millenial ennui. First there’s the “Fernanfloo dresses up” meme, expressing that these youths take seemingly trivial media more seriously than events such as their aunt’s wedding or wife’s funeral. Then there’s the “Tickets to X please” meme, which initially revolved around ticket sales of the film Joker, imagining unlikely friends arriving en masse to see a movie in cinemas.
As far as big gangs of mostly white teen boys go, this movement is pretty charming IMO: there’s not a tiki torch in sight, it’s a quite easy and social prank to pull off, and nobody’s getting hurt. Alas, all good things must come to an end.
“Distrubances” amongst some of the more rowdy #gentleminions has led various cinemas across the UK to ban suits at Minions: The Rise of Gru screenings. So if you and your mates are going to attempt the stunt yourselves, either be respectful to other cinema guests or be prepared, like Gru, to face the cold rejection of an unfeeling goody-two-shoes society. Banana.