‘Bee Movie’ is the greatest movie of our generation and this is why

By Jack Rechsteiner, page editor.

According to all known laws of cinema, there is no way that “Bee Movie” should be the most socially relevant film of all time. “Bee Movie”, of course, is anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.

“Bee Movie” is the greatest movie of our generation and you cannot convince me otherwise.

“What does ‘Bee Movie’ have to do with anything other than being a B-rate Jerry Seinfeld movie that became an internet meme?” You might be asking yourself, or maybe you’re screaming it. People have voiced strong opinions on this movie, and many of them are not positive. Some people have tried to fight me for writing this article. If you’ll bear with me, though, hopefully I can convince you why “Bee Movie” is the unsung hero of social relevance in modern cinema.

Anti-capitalist overtones

“Bee Movie” begins by introducing us to Seinfeld’s character, Barry B. Benson, and the hive he lives in. After that, it quickly becomes a scathing critique of capitalism. The hive’s honey companies, Honex and Honesco, draw parallels to big corporations, like Exxon and Pepsico. They hire bees to work for their entire lives just to make honey. Honey rhymes with something green and equally important in capitalist society. The bees are told to pick their jobs carefully, because they will be stuck with that job for the rest of their lives – very similar to careers in modern America. The bees sell this system to each other with smiles on their faces, but Barry wants something more than working to death.

Instead, Barry B. Benson is anxious to know what is outside the hive, but everyone else tells him to be content with the perfect life that he has. The movie makes a philosophical point of mirroring Plato’s cave allegory with this moment: Barry strives to find the truth of existence in spite of the comfortable dancing of the shadows along the wall that the security of the hive offers.

Race relations metaphors

Once finding himself outside of the hive, Barry soon comes into contact with humans. The way the humans react to Barry can be seen as similar to the institutionalized racism present in America today. The humans fear him because they don’t understand his lifestyle; they see him as evil and as a menace. They assume Barry isn’t an actual person, just because of his species or race, similar to the way whites viewed African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries – but leftover feelings from these prejudices are still found in society today. Barry B. Benson also loves jazz, a genre that’s deeply rooted within the black experience of the United States.

Along these same lines, Barry makes a comment that stinging is usually fatal for bees. In the context of this movie, that can be seen as a metaphor for African Americans’ struggling with an institutionalized prejudice against them that also prevents them from fighting back. Barry faces violence in public from random strangers because of how he looks, but if Barry were to fight back, he would be killed, resembling the justice system and police brutality faced by minorities every day. There is literally a scene in the movie where someone is pinned down by the police and repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”

After making his way to a honey farm, Barry ends up discovering that humans are exploiting bees for honey. Hives of bees are kept under control by capitalist beekeepers using smokers to drug them. This is an obvious metaphor for the American government’s War on Drugs and the way they planted drugs into inner-city communities. It develops an institutionalized system that lets the ruling party control those affected by the drugs and smoke. The humans in charge are able to benefit from the exploited working bees, much to the same effect that those in control of the state are able to profit from the legalized slave labor produced in state prisons.

Barry’s anger over humans stealing honey from bees also conveys feelings similar to the outrage people have over their cultures being appropriated. It is part of bee culture; they work hard for that honey and humans just come along and claim it as theirs. It’s the same as when people who go to Coachella have hamsa hand tattoos and dot their foreheads with bindis without knowing the first thing about Indian or Middle Eastern cultures.

True love is the noblest cause of all

On a more positive note, “Bee Movie” also shows that true love conquers all – even if that true love is between two different species. Barry connects with a human named Vanessa over their feelings as outcasts. Barry doesn’t want to work in honey and Vanessa doesn’t want to work for money – she aspires to be a florist instead. This small exchange blossoms into a beautiful love. Vanessa ends up leaving her boyfriend for Barry because she sees beyond the division of species, but rather, she simply sees “the nicest bee she’s met in a long time.”

Save the bees

In the last part of the movie, the environmental activism becomes more prominent. The bees end up getting their honey back and there is no need for them to make more. This leads to bees disappearing from across the country, in turn causing pollination to halt. The flowers all wilt away, and the earth begins to slowly die. More now than ever, there needs to be a push for people to care about the bees. This movie shows a horrifying look into the dystopia that we would live in without bees.

“Bee Movie” makes profound cultural statements and layers them in with Jerry Seinfeld makes razor-sharp humor. It hopes for a better tomorrow. To quote a line, “Bee Movie” hopes for a day where we can all say together that “today we are men! Bee-men. Amen! Hallelujah!”

Comments are closed.