Free the Minions! | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

We can understand the entire history of the capitalist labor market through the Despicable Me franchise.

If someone asked you to describe the Minions, what would you say? Likely, you would detail their small yellow pill-shaped bodies, dressed in overalls and oversized goggles. Perhaps you would provide the context that the Minions are characters first introduced in the 2010 animated children’s movie Despicable Me, and that their purpose is to serve their villainous master Gru while providing comic relief to an otherwise disturbing if bizarre plot. (A man wants to steal the moon.)

You can say that they speak a language of gibberish punctuated by recognizable English words like “banana” (Minions love bananas) and “potato” and that their likenesses appear on everything from shampoo bottles to thongs. If you were generally an uncynical person, you might say that Minions are cute and people like them. If you were not, you might posit that they are agents of the capitalist machine, ready-made and endlessly merchandisable mascots that make the world’s destruction at the hands of mega-corporations seem adorable and fun.

As of this summer, you might also say that the Minions have very cool taste in music. In May, it was announced that the soundtrack for Minions: The Rise of Gru (out July 1) would feature covers of ’70s hits by contemporary cult favorites: Phoebe Bridgers covering the Carpenters, Tierra Whack on Santana. It’s not the only example of Minion street cred: menswear blog Hypebeast has cataloged their most recent fashion collabs, which include Japanese graphic artist VERDY, Brooklyn-based fragrance company Joya Studio, and Supergoop, plus previous collections with it-brands like BAPE and Away suitcases.

it begins pic.twitter.com/sfpqnP5Rth

— Becca Laurie (@imbeccable) June 1, 2022

All of these pieces of merchandise are a blatant effort by Universal Pictures to...

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