Take a trip backward in time with me to April Fools’ Day 2016, when Google decided to prank its users with a terrible new feature: an animated GIF featuring those yellow Tic Tacs we all know and despise, the Minions. The “Minion mic drop” attached a Minions GIF to any email that was sent over Gmail, leading to a whole host of awkward situations (applying for a job with a Minions GIF is grounds for instant rejection). Google pulled the feature within hours and apologized.
Minions have become an odd and somewhat indecipherable internet shorthand, particularly on Facebook, but the Google snafu was something else. Having gotten countless people in trouble for inadvertent Minions-GIF usage, the Google prank stands as the all-time worst Minions-related internet thing in history. Or at least, it did, until last week.
Last Friday morning, Iowa congressional representative and prominent racist Steve King tweeted a link to an anti-immigrant op-ed on the site Voice of Europe, stating, “Diversity is not our strength. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, ‘Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.’”
Shortly afterward, Shawn Sebastian, who works for the Center for Popular Democracy, posted on Facebook about King’s statement. King is the representative for Sebastian’s hometown. “The representative for my hometown, Ames, IA and the current representative of my Indian parents just retweeted a statement by a far-right xenophobic Hungarian prime minister,” Sebastian wrote before recounting his family’s history in Iowa.
In the comments below the post, users discussed King’s Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, saying, “[L]et’s get Iowa behind him!”
And that’s when the Minions showed up. King (or someone acting on his behalf, as if there’s a difference), commented on the idea of Scholten’s candidacy with a GIF of a Minion spitting out popcorn.
“Representative King, would you care to elaborate?” Sebastian asked. King — who has a long history of really stupid, racist, idiotic opinions — did not respond.
It almost seemed like we would never surpass “Google causing tons of users to unwittingly email inappropriate Minions GIFs” as the worst Minions-GIF deployment in the history of being online, but somehow, “racist Congressman Steve King using a Minions GIF in the course of endorsing the opinion of a Hungarian neo-Nazi” is the new champion. Uh, congrats, or something.