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Jerry Seinfeld apologizes for ‘sexual undertones’ in 'Bee Movie' during commencement address

By Camille Santiago Published May 13, 2024 3:04 pm

Jerry Seinfeld is aware of the sexual themes of the 2007 animated comedy Bee Movie, and he's apologizing for it.

Last Sunday, the Seinfeld alum delivered the commencement address for graduating seniors at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina where his son Julian currently attends and his daughter Sascha previously graduated from.

During his speech, which was captured in a video by an attendee and shared on TikTok, Jerry reflected on the DreamWorks Animation film.

"I made a cartoon movie about bees you may have watched as a child," Jerry said.

"If any of you felt slightly uncomfortable about the sexual undertones in the relationship between Barry B. Benson and Vanessa, the florist who saves his life, I would like to apologize for that now," he continued. "I may not have calibrated that perfectly."

Since its release, Bee Movie viewers have pointed out the hidden tension between Barry, a bee, and Renée Zellweger's human character, Vanessa. Jerry first poked fun at it during a 2021 appearance on The Tonight Show, apologizing for the suggestive humor.

"I apologize for what seems to be a certain uncomfortable subtle sexual aspect of the Bee Movie," he said at the time. "[It] really was not intentional, but after it came out, I realized this is really not appropriate for children. Because the bee seems to have a thing for the girl, and we don’t really want to pursue that as an idea in children’s entertainment."

Movie director Steve Hickner, however, maintained that there was “never going to be sexual or anything like that” between the major characters. But some of Bee Movie's writers acknowledge a certain ambiguity in their relationship on screen. Spike Feresten said the writers focused on the characters' personalities rather than their physical limitations as a bee and a human.

“They would just be Barry and Vanessa, and we would write this dialogue for Barry and Vanessa, and read it over and have to remind ourselves, well, this is a tiny bee he this, and the tiny bee is fighting with her boyfriend, so let’s dial it back to friend, and make it less romantic, because it’s getting weird,” Spike said.

Steve also said, “It was purely this friendship…maybe in Barry’s mind he thought… but it was never going to be that.”

Jerry is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and producer. In recent weeks, he has ramped up public appearances to support the release of Unfrosted, his first time directing a feature film.