The Aussie teen behind the TikTok Minions suit meme


Source: Justin Lim/unsplash.

I don’t know how to ease you into the topic so I’m just going to say it: mobs of unruly teens inspired by viral TikToks are attending showings of the new Despicable Me film, Minions: The Rise of Gru, dressed in suits. Naturally, they call themselves the Gentleminions.

How big is this? Tens of thousands of videos have used the TikTok sound — meaning that they’ve used the platform’s feature to use the same audio on a new video, often to replicate it in their own way. There are teens all around the world doing it; I saw some Spanish and Polish versions too. Things are getting so out of hand that UK cinemas have banned the practice.

The video that really kicked off this trend was created by an 18-year-old from Sydney, Bill Hirst. His TikTok of 15 of his friends watching the movie at Chatswood Sydney has been viewed more than 35 million times.

Hirst was kind enough to get on the blower to explain why he did it: “Everyone’s always loved a bit of Minions. They’re big on TikTok. So we thought it would be funny to chuck on some suits and go to a showing.”


When his crew rocked up at the cinemas, incredibly, there was another group dressed up as Minions. Hirst said that other attendees were a bit weirded out at first by a gaggle of young men in suits attending a showing of a sequel of a spin-off of a popular children’s movie franchise, but, by his telling, “when we started interacting with the other group [dressed as Minions], everyone got a good laugh”.

Hirst wasn’t planning on filming it initially. In fact, it’s his first video ever on the platform. With the video’s viral success, he’s now got north of 100,000 followers from the single video. Hirst tells me he’s planning on creating another video but not about the Despicable Me film (“I don’t think we want to be too repetitive, but I think suits in places you don’t see are a funny concept.”)

It’s early days, but Minions: The Rise of Gru has already been a huge box office hit. Its success is due in part to the fact that the Minion characters have had an incredible cultural staying power as anyone who browses Boomerbook — err, I mean Facebook — can attest. I wouldn’t say the film’s success is being driven by the TikTok trend, but if the movie manages to defy the normal box office drop-off that happens after the first week, I think you can attribute that in part to the power of a real-life meme.

Oh, and is the film any good? Hirst gave it a big thumbs up. “Film was great, good, short film. 90 minutes. Brought back some good memories,” he said.

This article was first published by Crikey.


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