The Folly of the Bee Movie: Jerry Seinfeld's Blasphemous Tomfoolery

By SerenityWade, a reputable author by merit of her membership in BeeLab

Memes are an important aspect of life not only at EastDorm, but also at Mudd in general. One of the most pervasive memes of our age is the Bee Movie, "a 2007 American computer animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks? Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures" (a quick google search). The quality of the movie without the context of memery is questionable at best, and its quality as a meme is also, in the author's opinion, dubious; but the movie itself greatly offends and adulterates holy ground through its portrayal of the movie's subject: bees. The Bee Movie focuses on a male protagonist bee, Barry B. Benson, and his budding romance with a human, Vanessa Bloome the florist. The movie portrays Barry's hive as a parody of American society with emphasis on the corporate machine that consumes our living years, and in doing so also represents the majority of the bee workforce as male bees. In projecting the societal gender role standards of western human society onto apian social structures, Jerry Seinfeld simultaneously disservices progressive understandings of gender by perpetuating their roles -and- misrepresents noble bee society to a heinous degree. This paper aims to explain this folly, as well as any other aspects of the Bee Movie that are problematic or incorrect, in depth.

At the time that the film was released, the early 2000s, it was and still is understood that a man is more likely to pursue a life of working, whereas a women is more likely to stay at home to raise a family, and unlikely to enter the corporate workforce. The first two main characters that we see in the Bee Movie are prime examples of what's wrong with it: Barry B. Benson and his friend and colleague, Adam Flayman the bee. They are presented as the typical inhabitants of Seinfeld's corporate apiary utopia: graduating, working, and male. This is also reflected in Barry's mother's remarks as Barry flies down the stairs in the morning: "Why don't you use the stairs, your father paid good money for those!" This line implies that the father bee is the breadwinner of the bee household. These themes are again reinforced by Vanessa, Barry's future lover's, home life. Vanessa is portrayed as a florist. While she is employed, she is self-employed, and spends much time working from home as her flower shop is her home and is wholly disconnected from the corporate machine. When being productive, we always see her in her home. Ken, her boyfriend, is heavily implied to work in the workplace as a the same kind of corporate slave that Barry and Adam represent. Another example of female figures in the film is Barry's mother, who is a stay-at-home mom with no employment in the hive. These consistent portrayals of male characters as corporate workers and females as not those simply reinforce the gender stereotypes that were present at the time of the film's release. While this paper has no intention of delving into the (few) merits and (many) vices of a capitalist cubicle-work driven society, it's clear that Seinfeld meant for the males in the film to be portrayed as fulfilling work utility through their roles in the workforce, whereas female's utilities were more embodied by their roles as caretakers of families, and less as contributors to their respective societies.

The Bee Movie is also problematic in its inaccurate representation of how a beehive functions and what the different bee genders do. In a beehive, female bees (worker bees and the queen bee) keep the hive running by performing various roles, including but not limited to collecting pollen and nectar, laying and raising brood, protecting the hive, swarming and building new hives at the birth of a new clean, creation of honey and royal jelly, and searching for and communicating the location of food sources to other bees. On the other hand, male bees have but one function to perform before their inevitable and timely death: to fuck. Once a male bee has fucked, it has fulfilled its role and will promptly die. These gender roles are defined by the nature and female and male bees as male bees are literally half of a full bee: female bees are diploid organisms while drones are haploid. This expresses the idea that a drone's purpose is to pass on his mother's genetic material through the fuckening of another queen, whereas female bees have a full set of genetic material to fulfill their full utility. As a foil to human society, in a beehive, females run and contribute to their society whereas males simply exist to reproduce, almost a poetic role reversal of what Jerry Seinfeld portrays bee and human society to be.

Following from this analysis, another critique of Seinfeld's film arises: that of bee romance. The idea of bee romance, especially the type usually depicted in Hollywood media through male gaze, is entirely ludicrous. Early on in the film, Barry B Benson and Adam Flayman flirt with some of the female bees of the hive. A male bee will only ever mate with a queen bee, and therefore will never pursue a female worker bee. Conversely, a female worker bee will never mate, and therefore has no interest in sexual interactions. Therefore, the premise of the film of a male bee falling in love with a human female doesn't make any sense, as a male bee will only ever wish to smash a queen bee in his short, one-track, lifetime. The very existence of Barry B Benson, a male bee who's mother is not the queen bee, is impossible as female bees beyond the queen do not and cannot reproduce. This misconstruction of simply biological fact again reflect's Seinfeld's projection of human society onto that of bees. Bee romance is both arguably the centerpiece of Seinfeld's film and also a construct that simply doesn't exist in the real world, again embodying one of many things wrong with the Bee Movie.

But why does all of this matter? Why is it such an egregious overstep on Seinfeld's part to portray bees inaccurately?


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