Is Minions subtly promoting misogyny?

Published: July 30, 2015
Email

The minions’ main objective is simple, to seek out and offer their services to the most evil person alive.

Disclaimer: This is not a movie review, as I’m not a movie critic.

It started with the need to have minions at my beck and call 24/7. Never ending work, without a break, and lack of readily available home help had led to a frustrating situation. Although I was desirous of minions, in reality it was highly unlikely to happen. So I relegated myself to the virtual world of minions.

I’m not a huge fan of Disney-Pixar’s animated movies. This time, however, my kids ensured that I would accompany them to watch the latest ‘cartoon’. Not having watched ‘Despicable Me’ prior to this, I was a bit curious to see for myself what all the hangama (commotion) was about. My kids had been incessant about the Minions movie. So on the third day of Eid, since I was neither on call at home nor in the ER, I took my kids to watch the much anticipated movie. It was not entirely disappointing.

The minions’ main objective is simple – to seek out and offer their services to the most evil person alive. Thus, the evil doer’s nefarious deeds will be facilitated by the minions. Which begs the question, does goodness in real life ever get a free pass?

Ironically, per the only twist in the movie plot, the minions’ inherent inefficiency thwarts the attempts of the evil mongers to achieve world domination. Which then begs the next question, can facilitation of evil people in real life counter their motives?

As I sat in a theatre packed with children of all ages, watching the antics of the minions, I pondered whether others were pondering similar questions. Probably not, given the laughter, cheering and occasional clapping. The audience was likely enjoying the movie at a less cerebral level. And that too was fine by me.

There was something endearing about the minions with their oval shapes, variable number of eyes, even in their American names (like Bob, Stuart and Kevin) and gibberish sounding language. Although they could be distinguished by some of the features mentioned above, their yellow colour and love for bananas was perhaps their only unifying theme.

Overall, the movie experience was money well-spent. My kids enjoyed the movie. That was a bonus as they are serious movie buffs so if they’ve approved of one, then that says a lot.

All would’ve been good and dandy except for two observations that didn’t occur to me till a few days later:

1. There are no female or female-named minions

2. The vilest human (villain) is a woman

This put me in a quandary. In a subtle manner, was it misogyny that the movie was propagating among impressionable children and young adults? Wouldn’t that be particularly damaging in a country like Pakistan where women are given their rights more frequently on paper than in real life?

Furthermore, what came to mind were the recent irresponsible and demeaning comments about women made by a Pakistani rock star-turned religious zealot-turned designer clothes guru. In my opinion, there was no difference in misogyny, intended or otherwise, whether through Disney-Pixar or enforced piety in a patriarchal nation.

Maybe the itinerant’s observations above are completely irrelevant, but I hope to have sorted it all out by the next movie instalment in the Minion series.

Asad I. Mian

Asad I. Mian

The author is an ER physician and a writer/blogger/innovator whenever he's off. He is also an Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University. Other than the Biloongra series of bilingual books for children, he has written An Itinerant Observer, published in the US. He can be reached on Twitter @amian74 and his blog (anitinerantobserver.blogspot.com).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.