Here there be spoilers.
It was a funny movie with cute moments, (Bob giving away the tiny crown. Bob and Tim--basically all things Bob.) but it bugged the feminist in me, and here's why.
1. Where are the girl minions?
I googled it, (as one does,) and turns out there's an answer.
Here's a quote from that article.
In an interview with The Wrap, Minions creator (and director) Pierre Coffin explains there’s a reason we don’t see female Minions. Easy answer, they don’t exist. When he created the Minion world, he purposely didn’t include any girl Minions for one specific reason. Ready for it?According to Coffin, the Minions are all guys because, “Seeing how dumb and stupid they often are, I just couldn’t imagine Minions being girls.”
Seriously. The creator of Despicable Me couldn't imagine a character who was zany and mischievous, stupid and lovable, and also female. I Love Lucy has been showing reruns for 70 years, and he couldn't imagine a girl character who is mischievous. Gracie Allen has been dead for decades, and he couldn't imagine a girl as stupid and lovable.
Also, if I may just add that the argument that a girl is too X to be included in Y isn't a compliment. It's an excuse said in a way that we can't get mad at for explaining why woman who aren't perfect can't exist.
2. Scarlet Overkill.
Why did Scarlet Overkill have to be the very first female Supervillain? I mean seriously? Why, Minions Movie are you erasing history? Scarlet Overkill calls herself the first female Supervillain in 1970s, WAY after Lizzie Borden, or Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, or Catherine de Medici. But in this movie, before 1970's there were only male villains.
Which I guess is okay...that could be a story point...if, and only if it was actually used as one. This wasn't crucial to the plot...at all. There wasn't room to show a history of male villains that was changing. And if she was the first, why, for the love of peanut butter, did she have to be the only one? There was a Swamp Thing, and Sumo Dude, and a bunch of other awesome male supervilllain henchmen. Couldn't she have a few henchwomen she inspired? They had zero lines. Would it really have been that much more difficult to draw one or two other human beings as a girl?
3. Scarlet Overkill.
She's a supervillian, but she doesn't get to do anything except wear a dress. Withing the first minute of introducing Gru, he had popped a kids balloon, freeze ray'ed a bunch of people and threatened to kill his neighbors dog. The only evil Scarlett gets to do is threaten the minions about what will happen to them if they don't, and she has to do it in a sing song voice while telling a fairytale...i.e. the least threatening way possible. She tells us she's bad, but she never shows us she's bad, and that's just bad storytelling.
Her husband, Herb, is the inventor, the designer, and the one responsible for her being the first female Superpower. So then, isn't she really just the first female puppet of a supervillain? How much cooler would it have been if she was the inventor, the designer, and the person in charge?
4. Scarlett Overkill.
Okay, so her entire goal as a character was to steal the crown so she could be a pretty princess like she wanted to when she was a little girl.
So to sum up, Scarlett Overkill is the first female Supervillain whose super power is wearing a dress. The source of her power is her husband who makes this dress for her, and whose only motivation is to be a pretty princess when she grows up.
Ask yourself one question, if Scarlett Overkill was a Barbie doll that Herb Overkill dressed up and moved around, then would the plot still work? The answer is sadly yes.
It's set in the backdrop of the 1970's, with hints of the Feminist revolution, with an "awesome" Female Supervillain played by the phenomenal Sandra Bollock. And she did a great job... with what she had been given. But it fails, in a zillion I've-seen-this-all-before ways. She's not a supervillain, she's a supervillain with a bow placed on her head. She's a flat uninteresting character, whose entire characterization begins and ends with she's a girl. She's a girl living in a world with no other females. She is the idea of a girl, and not an actual character.
And so, I'm going to design a better Scarlett Overkill.
Meet Scarlett V.2.
She wants to be the greatest Supervillain of all time, and she has posters on her wall of awesomely powerful female villains; like Motherload, Lizzie Borden Ax Murderess, and her hero The Crimson Spike. She designed her own self propelled vehicle and armory belt/dress, which she rocks, thank you very much. She has friends who are female. She has rivals who are female. She makes choices, and decisions for herself, and when she is finally caught in her web of ice, by..... say, one young Gru, the freaking Queen punches her and takes back her crown, because she is the freaking Queen of FREAKING ENGLAND, and she's not going to abdicate for her own son-- let alone a Yellow Twinkie in glasses, or allow that Twinkie to change laws so that an American could be the next queen, are you freaking kidding me right now? Even the Queen was shown as powerless. She is only shown with men; male guards, male carriage drivers, and even in the scene at the bar there are only male patrons, and she only wore pink. BLARG.
In my version of this story, the queen would fight for her thrown. And Scarlett Overkill would HAVE TO DO THINGS to defeat the queen. She'd have to be smart and powerful, with allies, and obstacles and they'd go to war over this freaking crown.
It's possible I just described a Taylor Swift music video.
It's also possible I'm making too big of a deal about this. It's just a kid's movie about yellow Twinkies with goggles who don't speak human.
It's also possible that I sat next to impressionable little boys and girls who just learned that the only way for a woman to be powerful is for her to wear a dress and be married to a powerful person.
And sure, that's a great way to be powerful. But does it have to be the only option?
I can't wait for that narrative to start changing.
p.s. how young is too young to take my kids to go see Mad Max?