The movie theater isn’t what it used to be. Despite a handful of record-breaking releases over the last few years, many of our viewing experiences have been relegated to our homes, where we can select whatever slog Netflix is offering up from the comfort of our couches. Dates — which once took place at the theater — have also succumbed to the casual predictability of “Netflix and chill.” The pandemic and high ticket prices haven’t helped either. There’s no fanfare to the movie theater anymore, no novelty and certainly no glamour.
The recent TikTok trend of #gentleminions is a challenge to this mediocrity. Beginning last weekend, groups of young men started gathering at theaters to watch Minions: Rise of Gru dressed entirely in formal attire. Usually, they’re in suits, though some go more business-casual and others spring for a full tux. On TikTok, it’s common to see groups of eight or more young men dressing up for the film, but there have apparently been theaters full of guys doing this, too.
Exactly why the trend started is unclear, but it’s grown to the point where even the official Minions TikTok has encouraged it. Over the weekend, they posted a video showing the crowds of besuited viewers saying, “Your day has come… Bobspeed, you Gentleminions.”
Unfortunately, though, some of these dapper moviegoers have been thwarted: In the U.S., U.K. and Australia, theaters are reportedly prohibiting anyone in suits from attending showings. This is apparently because some Gentleminion have been disrupting the film for others, often by yelling along with it or just being loud more generally. This is terrible movie-viewing etiquette, of course, and it should be admonished. But blocking well-dressed Gentleminions from attending shows isn’t just an attack on them — it’s an attack on cinema, liberty and the right to enjoy Minions: Rise of Gru in style.
For starters, it’s impressive enough that groups of friends are getting together to see a movie at all. That they’re going to see a prequel to a spinoff of a children’s cartoon is all the more noteworthy. Simply attending isn’t enough, though — they’re making an event of the whole thing by putting on suits they’ve probably only had two or three other opportunities to wear. They’re showing up and showing out. Yes, they’re probably doing it for likes and the opportunity to go viral, but who fucking cares?
Let’s find some joy where it’s available to us. After all, plenty of people dress up for Marvel movies or franchises like Harry Potter. What makes Minions any different? In fact, compared to wearing a full costume, wearing a nice suit is relatively tame!
Thankfully, public opinion is on the side of the Gentleminions, and most people are refusing to let a few bad apples ruin the moment. If anything, the pushback is only inspiring them further. “Cinema and theater-going play a very important part in my life,” Kareem Rahma, a comedian who’s organizing a mass Minions viewing on Thursday, July 7th in New York City, tells me. “I know that the theater industry is struggling to stay afloat and is at risk. But I believe that the Gentleminions are the only way to save it. As a millennial, I believe that supporting the youth is integral, which is why I’ve taken the initiative to support them by organizing a New York City-based Gentleminions screening.”
Rahma insists that anyone who attends with him wear a suit or tuxedo, and he specifically chose an 8:15 p.m. showing to avoid disrupting any kids who might be trying to see the film. That said, he predicts there will be some hootin’ and hollerin’ — not that he necessarily apologizes for it. “There’s hootin’ and hollerin’ at many movie theaters,” he argues. “I saw Fast and the Furious, and there was constant hootin’ and hollerin’. No one was upset. Everyone was just vibing. Why are they targeting Gentleminions? It makes no sense to target such distinguished guests. Honestly, they should be giving us free popcorn. Movie tickets are $20. Let us hoot and holler.”
So far, the Regal theater where he plans to watch the movie hasn’t imposed any sort of ban on formalwear, groups or very excitable audiences. And God willing, the Gentleminions movement can continue onward, potentially even changing the future of movie-going in the process. Why shouldn’t we break out our Sunday best for a trip to the theater? Why shouldn’t we treat a kid’s movie as though it’ll immediately become a classic piece of cinema? Let’s bring some glitz back to the everyday.
They can try and keep us from their theaters, but they can’t stop us from being Gentleminions.