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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

deep thought (re ‘Despicable Me’)

None of Gru’s Minions are female because Gru’s archenemy Gargamel hasn’t yet gotten around to creating a Minionette to sow discontent in the land of Gru…



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  • MaryAnn, I think staying up every night waiting for the Doctor to show up in your garden is finally getting to you. Are we gonna have to hold an intervention?

  • Christina

    …and when he does, there will be only one girl Minion, as in Smurfette. Just the one – that’s all we need, she can cook and keep house for all of the boys. Yecch.

    Now ask me why I never go to see movies like this. Go on, ask me, I dare ya.

  • I guess I should be upset because none of those minions are Hispanic. However, it seems to me that there has been quite enough stereotypical Hispanic servants in modern-day movies without this film adding to that number. Besides, most of the Hispanic servants I’ve met in real life were already working for other Hispanics so heh, irony.

    Not that that has anything to do with MaryAnn’s original question–though I must confess that I find it hard to believe that someone who was so upset about the female version of Scrat in the last Ice Age movie would be just fine with a Dreamworks movie about a male mad scientist with multiple female minions. Especially small, child-like female minions…

  • Nate

    Not that that has anything to do with MaryAnn’s original question–though I must confess that I find it hard to believe that someone who was so upset about the female version of Scrat in the last Ice Age movie would be just fine with a Dreamworks movie about a male mad scientist with multiple female minions. Especially small, child-like female minions…

    Excuse my nitpicking, but this is Illumination Entertainment, not DreamWorks.

    Anyway, I was under the impression that some of the minions were female, or at least it looked like two of them were an item or something.

    Granted, the credits only list male named minions, but there were like hundreds more of them. Surely some of them were female.

    Or maybe I’m just imagining it and we’re supposed to assume they’re all male since there none of them have tertiary sexual characteristics.

  • MaryAnn

    I guess I should be upset because none of those minions are Hispanic

    Well, none of them are Caucausion or African or Asian. They’re all, er, Minionoid.

    Granted, the credits only list male named minions, but there were like hundreds more of them. Surely some of them were female.

    Of all the many, many names individual Minions are addressed by, precisely none of them are female names. You’d think the odds would be that at least one female Minion would have to be addressed at some point.

    Perhaps the Minions have no gender themselves. But that does preclude — if gendered names are to be applied to them so that Gru will have something to call them — that some of them would have gotten female names.

    The Minions *could* have all had names that could be female or male: Ashley. Jude. Jordan. Chris. Pat. That could have been funny.

    At the risk of repeating myself, maleness is not neutral.

    a Dreamworks movie about a male mad scientist with multiple female minions. Especially small, child-like female minions…

    At the risk of repeating myself, maleness is not neutral.

  • Nate

    Perhaps the Minions have no gender themselves. But that does preclude — if gendered names are to be applied to them so that Gru will have something to call them — that some of them would have gotten female names.

    It is possible that Gru, being a male and not knowing the gender of the minions, gave them a male name anyway a la “Kevin” in Up.

  • Nate

    Chalk it up to in-universe male gaze

  • MaryAnn

    But that does preclude

    That should have been “But that does NOT preclude…”

  • frostyfish

    Perhaps the fact that all of the minions are male is meant to be metaphor for the change in Gru’s perspective througout the film. Gru is wrapped up in his own little world in the beginning of the movie, a world of supervillainy and maleness. The introduction of the little girls into his world expanded his worldview. While he didn’t have room for other viewpoints at the start of the film, this changed by the end…
    Maybe we will see female minions in the future…? I know I’d like to!

  • Excuse my nitpicking, but this is Illumination Entertainment, not DreamWorks.

    Point taken. I should have done more research before I identified this movie by studio and not simply assumed that any American-style animated movie with a major advertising campaign that has not been released by Disney or Pixar is automatically a Dreamworks movie.

    Bad Tonio. Bad naughty evil Tonio.

    At the risk of repeating myself, maleness is not neutral.

    First off, my remark about Hispanic minions in my last post was obviously tongue-in-cheek. I don’t need to see Hispanic characters in every single movie I see–though of course I prefer that over not seeing them in any movies–and some types of characters–i.e. stereotypes–I’ve already seen enough of in the past without seeing yet more examples.

    Just as you undoubtedly get tired of certain female stereotypes (the ditzy blonde, the frigid bluestocking, the wacky redhead, etc.), I get tired of seeing certain stereotypes as well.

    That said, I have learned to take a “be careful what you wish for” stance toward certain cinematic stereotypes because all too often what seems like an improvement over the old school style of filmmaking is anything but. For example, the films of the Farrelly Brothers are a lot more open to sexual references than, say, the Thin Man movies but I would hardly say that they’re an improvement.

    In any event, I could have wondering in a devil’s advocate sort of way whether you really would have that much happier to see female minions in DM if they were, say, all doing domestic chores or waiting on the “male” minions hand and foot or doting on Gru the way Robin Williams’ robotic “female” assistant in Flubber doted on him.

    After all, many times I have wished to see more multiracial characters on movies like the ones I see in real life and yet many of the films I have seen in such a category–Crash, Rent, Lady in the Water, etc.–have been even more irritating to me than the all-white movies I usually complain about. Not because I hate the idea of a Hollywood film with a multiracial cast but because I hate how Hollywood interprets the idea of a multiracial cast to mean a less than entertaining storyline that minorities are supposed to like because, hey, at least we are being represented on the big screen.

    Anyway, I’m sorry if I gotten a little more overanalytical in my response than usual. Sometimes I tend to overthink these issues more than you expect. If you’re cool with more female characters in positions that were subservient to men, that’s cool, but I would have thought that you would have wanted the opposite.

  • Ahem.

    One paragraph above should read:

    In any event, I have been wondering in a devil’s advocate sort of way whether you really would have that much happier to see female minions in DM if they were, say, all doing domestic chores or waiting on the “male” minions hand and foot or doting on Gru the way Robin Williams’ robotic “female” assistant in Flubber doted on him.

    Bad, bad Tonio. Bad naughty evil Tonio…

  • MaryAnn

    WTF? You’re suggesting that the only possible way this movie could have depicted female Minion is if they were domestic help or subservient to the male Minions?

    *headdesk*

    There is absolutely no reason at all that *everything* about the way the Minions appear in the movie could be *exactly* the same as they are now, except that when Gru calls out names, he also says “Betty” and “Josephine” and “Linda” and “Glenda” and other female names.

    I can’t believe, Tonio, that you’re actually suggesting that when I wondered why there weren’t any female Minions, I would have wanted to see any hypothetical female Minion doing stereotypical female work.

    And no, the solution to Hollywood’s stereotyping is not to sigh and give up when they start stereotyping in a new way. I refuse to believe that you’ve given up on wishing that Hollywood would be more inclusive of Hispanics because Hollywood still refuses to understand what that inclusiveness means (ie: not more Hispanic drug dealers and gang bangers, but more Hispanic characters in every kind of role).

  • JoshDM

    I haven’t seen this film yet, but maybe he keeps all the females in the breeding room? The title is “Despicable Me”.

  • MaryAnn

    If you’re auditioning for the role of troll, JoshDM, you’ve almost got the part.

  • JoshDM

    I’m too old for the part, dammit. I gotta go get my agent on the phone.

  • I refuse to believe that you’ve given up on wishing that Hollywood would be more inclusive of Hispanics because Hollywood still refuses to understand what that inclusiveness means (ie: not more Hispanic drug dealers and gang bangers, but more Hispanic characters in every kind of role).

    Okay, for the record, I haven’t been given up. However, I’m not as idealistic about Hollywood’s efforts in that area as I was a decade or so ago.

    And indeed, I really would like to see you get your wish in regards to female inclusion as well. I’m just tired of trusting Hollywood to do the right thing and unfortunately, I don’t see the female minion scenario I described above becoming less likely unless something radically changes in Hollywood.

    Oh, well. I should save my cynicism for a more deserving target than your question. At least you’re trying to think outside the box at a time when all too many people are determined to nail it shut.

  • Jackie

    I would like to put an end to this silly bickering about the gender and race of the minions. Of course, they are all males, some drag queens, and are a melting pot of ethnic diversity. In DM 2 it is clear they are speaking many languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean and Russian. One is named Jorge and they are obsessed with butts! HMMM.,,, They do housework dressed as a french maid and sing the iconic gay theme song “YMCA” at the end. I think they did a fine job with an all inclusive modern day portrayal of society as it should be wonderfully refreshing. Not to mention a strong female character who ultimately is the hero, a hearing impaired Dr.Nefario and Gru who is from New Mexico and speaks with a Russian accent. The writer of the story, Serio Pablos. is from Spain and the film producers are French. These movies break the mold of Hollywood sterotyping and pushes the boundaries! So maybe you need to watch again and see how disullusioned you are about this film!

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