September 5, 2017

CHAZAN | The Minions of Madness: An Interview with Brett Middleton

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Minions are everywhere. You know them. Those yellow things. They are cute, they are corporate, they are a bit annoying. Beloved by children and the elderly, Minions can appear in any context, constantly being cross promoted. it is totally unnecessary to watch the Minions movie (Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, 2015 – not the characters’ first iteration, but the definitive text) to experience Minions as a franchise. But what if you did watch that movie? What if you watched it every day?

Enter Toronto-based folk punk musician Brett Middleton. Between gigs with his band Former Gang Members, Brett has been livestreaming himself watching all 90 minutes of the Minions movie on a daily basis. Occasionally some of his friends join him, but for the most part Brett is alone on this journey. Be aware, dear reader: I’ve known Middleton since high school, and he has always impressed me as a clever performer with a knack for thinking of a funny, off-the-cuff turn of phrase that becomes something greater once actually said. So it is with the Minions marathon. What began as a joke has evolved into a bleak performance art of late capitalism and the limits of patience. Two weeks into his quest, I spoke to Brett about his time with the minions.

Let’s get down to business. Why Minions? Why are you doing this?

I’ve seen Minions everywhere, and I’ve never seen Despicable Me or anything. They’ve just become such an absurd cultural phenomenon! It’s always just enraged me. So I thought it would be funny to watch Minions every day for as long as I could. It started off funny, like “oh yeah, this guy watches Minions every day.” But now it’s becoming something totally different than I thought it would be.

How so? How has Minions changed in your time?

I thought it would be like “haha! This guy watches Minions every day. That’s hilarious.” But it’s slowly… starting to break me? And now every day you’re basically seeing me lose a bit of hope for the world.

I see. So, you’re at two weeks now, right?


How long do you think you can keep this up?

I don’t know. Maybe a month.

Do you think you’d go past a month if you reach that point?

(laughs) [expletive deleted] No.

You still feel Minions is a totally cynical thing, then. You’re not gaining anything from this experience.

I don’t see myself gaining anything. Maybe I’m learning how strong I can be. And persistent.

What do you mean by strength?

Look: how many people like to watch their favorite movie every day for two weeks? I feel like there’s something in watching something that you aren’t a fan of at all. That isn’t necessarily building character, but it’s showing how much I can put myself through. It’s a strength in itself.

Who’s your favorite Minion?

Bob. Easy. He’s the childish one, he’s so innocent. I was asking my friend Alex the same thing, and he said it’s so easy to say Bob is your favorite, because the movie paints him as the most perfect minion. His only flaw is ignorance.

Who’s the worst minion?

Stuart. Ugh. He’s the worst. He’s just so full of himself. He does nothing worthwhile to add to what the minions are trying to accomplish. I think I see a bit of myself in him, because he wants to be cool. I think the projection there is why I don’t like him.

Do you think watching minions is going to finally make you cool?

(a hearty chuckle) Yeah. Totally. Honestly, I’m doing this for narcissistic reasons.

Have you made any discoveries over the past two weeks? About yourself or the Minions mythos.

Yeah. I’ve been trying to get something out of this movie, and most of the time it’s just me watching it, but through my own mind and that of my guests I’ve come up with some theories. Are the Minions god’s angels on earth? Is the movie some sort of allegory? Is the proletariat and the bourgeoisie… What is the anatomy of the minions? To be honest, I haven’t learned much about myself.

Have you learned anything about yourself?

No? I’m kind of questioning myself — why am I doing this? I’ve reached a point where I can’t stop, I need to meet some goal.

Is watching Minions at all like other addictions?

Oh…no! No. I’m not at work every day, craving to watch Minions… actually, it might be, in the sense that I want to achieve something. I need to reach this the most days in a row of watching it. But I’m not addicted to the movie itself.

Is it more like masochism then?

Yeah. But maybe that masochism is an addiction itself.

Asides from your Minions exploits, you’re also in a band called Former Gang Members.

Yes. As an artist, I feel that I like to create. Music is just one of the things I like to do, as well as writing. But I feel like this project is somehow some sort of art. I thought it was going to be a comedy thing. And now it’s more introspective. I’m seeing how frail a human being is.

Middleton’s Minions livestreams can be seen on his facebook page, “Beans Middleton.”

Nathan Chazan is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Next Panel will appear Mondays this semester. He can be reached at [email protected].