What you need to know is right there in the podcast description: “A leftist podcast about your mee-maw’s genocidal Facebook feed.” Today’s mainstream media will rarely acknowledge the violence proliferating on social media. From Nazis recruiting teenage boys on 4Chan to anti-abortion minion memes from your grandma, it is undeniable that conservatives on social media have coalesced into a political force that frequently results in real-life harm, with those called the “alt-right” as its actors. As the Minion Death Cult puts it: “The world is ending. Your uncle’s Facebook feed is responsible. We’re documenting it.”
Alex Edward and Tony Boswell began the Minion Death Cult podcast in 2017 as a response to the growing influence of far-right social media trends. Their mission? To document and analyze them, paying particular attention to the trends that seem too frivolous or obscure for mainstream liberals to validate. Even the title of the podcast is a reference both to the way Minion memes are used on Facebook among boomer communities to spread conspiracies and to the use of the moniker “death cult” for the 57% of Republicans who stated that 176,000 deaths from coronavirus would be acceptable, according to a CBS News Battleground Tracker poll.
Edward and Boswell give respect to conservative internet culture; they don’t dismiss its trends as fringe conspiracy theories and they don’t underestimate the harm this culture can cause by writing it off as too weird or niche to matter. There is no hierarchy on the internet, and what was once fringe can become mainstream in a matter of days. The hosts of Minion Death Cult recognize this and spend as much time rebutting angry Facebook comments about the rebranding of Aunt Jemima as they do Barack Obama’s attempt to break the Aug. 26 NBA strike for racial justice. And of course, they do it all with humor. Observe part of the description from a recent episode, where they comment on a viral video of “two female soldiers [dancing] to WAP on [TikTok], leading conservative commentators to wonder: do women deserve rights?” Even so, the show is more calming than its more famous (and more rowdy) counterpart, leftist podcast Chapo Trap House which features five hosts — the majority of whom are white men. The two hosts of Minion Death Cult provide a calm, conversational tone, and Boswell provides a Black perspective on current events.
“..two female soldiers [dancing] to WAP on tiktok, leading conservative commentators to wonder: do women deserve rights?”
In fact, one of my favorite moments of the podcast to date was one of Boswell’s jokes about the removal of the Aunt Jemima logo as one of many attempts by corporations and sports teams to cash in on the George Floyd protests. The loss of the logo felt like losing a family member for Boswell because as a child he was told that Aunt Jemima was his actual aunt. It was funny, and it was refreshing to hear a more cynical opinion regarding the wave of opportunistic, aesthetic reforms that followed the protests.
For anyone looking for a casual way to engage with leftist media, I highly recommend the Minion Death Cult podcast for some education and some laughs. Minion Death Cult can be found on most podcasting platforms like Spotify, Stitcher, and Libsyn. It should be noted, however, that the podcast does not have official transcripts available.