The Bizarre Origins Of The Internet's Most Persistent Meme
When I'm not on Facebook complaining about the Internet, I can usually be found on the Internet complaining about Facebook. If I wasn't so hopelessly addicted to the ego trip it gives me, you'd better believe I'd deactivate my page, by god. But since I've already resigned myself to being shackled to this fucking website until long after I'm dead, I really feel like I should be allowed to enjoy my time spent booking some face.
One major irritation, which has managed to snuggle itself into my newsfeed between the pictures of people's food and incorrect statistics about immigrants, is pictures of Minions from Despicable Me. I'm not the first to complain about these things, and I won't be the last, but Christ in a casket, what the fuck is happening to the Internet?
If you made this, DM me on Twitter and I'll mail you a wasp's nest filled with fabulous prizes!
Listen, I know I'm foaming at the mouth over some well-tread territory with all this Minion hate. There have been tons of discussions about how Minions have sullied the good name of the meme, rendering creativity and humor obsolete as we enter into this New Year. But I am still completely dumbfounded as to why Minions bled from the big screen and leaked all over our smartphones. I guess I get the appeal for kids, in the same way I get the appeal for the Teletubbies. Kids are dumb and love anything else that's dumb, colorful, and silly. But I've seen the actual Minions in action as an adult and have never felt like they were a viable representation of how I'm doing on a particular day. They pull that lowest common denominator, diarrhea of the mouth "banana" bullshit and speak in another language ... sometimes? They most assuredly never say something like this.
These are all real images I have saved off my timeline in the past week. Educated, mature people scrolling through their timelines got a chuckle out of those images, maybe found something that spoke to them on a deeply profound level, and I'll be goddamned if they didn't press that share button. I don't want to sound like a curmudgeon here, because I know there are bigger things going on in the world, but isn't there anyone out there who, like me, just wants to know why??
One night I got wasted and decided I'd finally had enough Minion memes. So I decided to fire back at them in the most gangster way I know how: I drafted a tweet about it. It was to go something like this: "If you want someone to blame for all the Minions on your Facebook feeds, you can blame those fat-cats at ____." Admittedly, I've never been good at tweeting. Plus, even in my inebriated state, I knew I had to fill in that blank. So I got to thinking: Who is to blame for cramming these things down my throat day after day? It would be easy enough to blame Universal Studios, Obama, or even the guy who created Minions, Pierre Coffin. But none of them are really at fault. They simply gave mankind the weapon; it was mankind who decided to use that weapon for evil.
I don't think they meant for this to happen:
Or whatever the fuck this is supposed to be:
This is by far the most frustrating article I've ever begged Cracked to let me write.
Do people realize that you can just post pictures of words by themselves? Hell, you don't even need to have a picture behind text for folks to be able to read it, much less a picture of a Minion. I think that's what infuriates me the most about this whole thing: Why are Minions? Just ... why are they? I was determined to pin this whole epidemic on a single source, which was not an easy task. Anyone with MS Paint and a shitty sense of humor can make a Minion meme. But for every jerk that takes a Sex And The City quote and slaps it onto a badly JPEG'd Minion picture, there are upload sites grinding these fucking things out by the hundreds all the time. How the hell would I track down the first one, the patient zero? I started with Google Trends so I could get an idea of how far back I should be looking. It turns out, even though Despicable Me came out in 2010, the search term "Minion meme" did not get popular until July of 2013 when Despicable Me 2 came out.
It's also the year The Lone Ranger came out, and we can't rule out that connection.
This is understandable behavior, as the second movie, and the marketing campaign that accompanied, focused mainly on the Minions. Early on in my research, I found an article that discussed how Comcast is making fucking bank for every Minion that gets shared. Because Universal is owned by Comcast, I handsomely deduced the studios must have started some kind of marketing campaign dedicated to making memes out of those lovable yellow shitballs. So I went to the official Facebook page for Despicable Me and scrolled all the way through their section for 2013, getting my eyes ready for all the rolling they were about to do. Not only did I not find a single meme-type image for the year 2013 but there were barely any pictures with words on them on the entire Facebook timeline! Their official Twitter page was the same deal: 221 photos and videos, not one Minion meme. If somebody was to blame for fartin' up my newsfeed, it wasn't the studios.
I analyzed some of the images I had saved for this article, and the most common watermark I've seen was for a Facebook Minion meme fanpage that held a lot of promise. The place is full of garbage and filth -- the Mos Eisley Spaceport of memes, if you will. Plus, Minions are aliens or something, right? That makes the metaphor that much stronger.
From the 40th anniversary Blu-ray.
With over 1 million followers, the Facebook page seemed to be one of the main sources of my frustrations. Pages like the one above crank this stuff out, and your grandmother, that dude from high school you're not sure you've ever met, and hundreds of thousands of other people share the ever-loving fuck out of them. My conclusion seemed pretty cut-and-dried until another quick Google search shut me right down. In addition to that Facebook page, there are a bunch of different websites using some variation of "Minion" and "memes" in their domain name, each one bursting at the seams with the hottest Minion pics. So while what they're doing is unquestionably wrong, they're an aggregate of all the worst kinds of people generating the content for them. Unfortunately, they're not solely to blame for this baloney.
At this point, I was getting a little discouraged, having reached a point of diminishing returns on the time I wasted and still with nobody to blame. I was determined to get some kind of answer, though, so in an act of desperation, I decided to just search Google Images for "Minion memes" to see what happened. While digging through page after page of the festering drivel, I began to notice one particular image that kept coming up over and over again.
Aside from being specious reasoning at best, the word "awesome" sticks out like a sore thumb with its different font and color. So I reverse-image-searched that picture and came up with the original wording.
Here's where my research took a little bit of a turn. When you search that image or even the text of that quote, you are given a page full of Minions, suggesting that this specific image is a popular meme in the Minion community. What was peculiar to me was how that quote didn't seem to be attached to anyone famous and the images with that quote were either Minions or simple text on a background. No attribution to anyone famous like Marilyn Monroe or Jimi Hendrix or Mr. Rogers, just this random quote next to some kind of yellow monster. After a lot of digging around, I finally found the earliest mention of the quote. Lucky for me, the thing was credited and timestamped.
You heard me. Timestamped.
This quote did not exist, as far as I could see, before 2012, and searching for the creator of the quote did not tie them to Minions in any way, shape, or form. In addition to that, no matter what search terms I tried, I could not find any evidence of the familiar "shitty inspirational quote" Minion meme before this one. Finally! I had what could very well be the terrible Minion meme that started it all! Now it was just a matter of doing some Google-fu to trace it back to its origin. And trace it back to its origin I did.
After doing a reverse image search, I changed the date range to the time when the first movie came out, around May to June 2009, which garnered zero results. Next, I changed the range to the sequel's time period, and this time I got a few hits. Score! Finally, after fiddling with the filters a bit more, I ended up narrowing down the earliest known mention of the picture. The origin appeared to be an innocent enough Twitter post.
That's Stuart, the Minion, and for some reason, this quote we learned about earlier is attributed to him. With over 2,000 retweets and followers somewhere in the 174K range, it's pretty safe to say this image has made its way around the net. As for the account, called TalkingMinions, it looks to be an offshoot of every other fleeting, semi-humorous inspirational quote Twitter account that people seem to eat right up. When July 13, 2013, rolled around, TalkingMinions saw that Stuart was trending and, since they had the proper platform, joined in the fun.
So a Twitter account specializing in inspirational quotes joined with the popular trend of the time and it seems to have spawned this entire ordeal. To back up my claim, I did a Google search for "Minion Memes" between 7/13/2013 and 7/14/2013. I then did that same search for a month later.
The first search returned some Minion pictures, some text here and there, and the meme that started it all. The next month, I was greeted with new, awful Minion memes, as well as other memes talking about how awful Minion memes were. This was only the beginning of the dark days, and every month you jump forward in Google's search, the more shitty memes appear. As far as I was concerned, I had my answer and my rad tweet.
If you want someone to blame for all the Minions on your Facebook feeds, you can blame those fat cats over at @TalkingMinions.
The good news is that the account that has issued the downfall of the Internet hasn't tweeted in a few months. Also, maybe unrelated, maybe not, but their last tweet was on 9/11 of last year.
Erik Germ is no good at Twitter, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow him.
If you're a true memer, then you'll know "Frodo lives" and the other great memes in 7 Memes That Went Viral Before The Internet Existed, and learn why Russia may have the best memes in the world when you read 6 Insane Foreign Memes That Put Lolcats To Shame.
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