Post-Shamrock-Shaking Blues | “Another Irish Drinking Song” from Despicable Me 2


Ashe Burr, Writer/Volunteer

The pints have been downed. The Chicago River is slowly losing its hue. Bottles of liquor from Bailey and James’ son litter the floors, and the bars have found more profit than on any other day. This holiday, which is to honor Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has somehow morphed into an unofficially-official holiday of drinking until you drop in the United States.

The Feast of St. Patrick, which is what the modern holiday stems from, honors the not quite Irish saint. Much like the “Irish” pubs that dot the landscape, Patrick wasn’t truly Irish. St. Patrick was born in Roman era Britain, likely in Scotland. Patrick made his name converting the Emerald Isle to Christianity, but is now better known as a folk hero.

One of the most prominent stories featuring St. Patrick is that of him driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Considering that Ulster has yet to be reunited with the rest of the island, that hasn’t worked out. To honor him, a feast is held annually to his name. 

Many of the St. Patrick’s Day traditions stem from the wave of immigrants that left the island after the Great Hunger in the 1840s. Pubs in the east coast of the United States were meeting hubs for the growing Irish population. This led to pubs and the Irish-American population being seemingly intertwined. One of the most prevalent Irish stereotypes in this current day is that of alcoholism. It isn’t clear how the holiday ended up being the way it is, but it would likely stem from that intertwining and stereotype. 

So, how does any of this relate to this 40-second-long “song” from the unnecessary 2013 sequel of the film that spawned the bane of my existence? Well, that’s a bit of a story. You see, the song is a parody of the chorus of another song of the same name by Da Vinci’s Notebook. I’ll get into that later.

The scene in Despicable Me 2 features the Minions partying after a not-so-hard day’s work for Gru. They are all carrying steins of ice cream — remember, this is supposed to be a children’s film — while singing a drinking song. Drinking songs have a long and storied history in Europe, but especially in the nations of the British Isles. Traditions of drinking songs have carried on to this day, but not in the same vein. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is set to “The Anacreontic Song,” which was a drinking song created by the Anacreontic Society. 

One Minion, who is carrying a tray of steins, also has shot glasses on the tray. Either this means that ice cream is intoxicating to the Minions or there’s something else going on here. Hell, there is even a full dry bar in the film. There are some antics that could be associated with drunkenness, such as a Minion wearing a knight’s helmet backwards swinging around a mace, a pair holding another stumbling Minion up and another Minion flirting with what appears to be a trash can with a face drawn on it. 

Illumination Studios had set the bar so low: First they leaned into ethnic stereotypes  — which I can’t mention without a nod to the main villain of the film, a Mexican villain named El Macho — and then they followed up with a film filled with war crimes. I wish I were making this up.

The lyrics of the original song reference many Irish stereotypes, not just alcoholism. Thankfully, the one good thing the film did in regard to this was make the lyrics indecipherable. But they didn’t have to bloody name it “Another Irish Drinking Song!”

This film has absolutely nothing to do with Ireland. What did we ever do to the French? The bar was on the ground and Illumination Studios brought out a shovel. I sincerely hope that when the Super Mario Bros. movie is released, we see as much of a lean into Italian stereotypes as they did with the Irish in the 40 seconds this clip comes from.