Humourless Marxist Reviews: Bee Movie


The astute reader might note that Bee Movie, a Dreamworks film in which bourgeois stooge Jerry Seinfeld (no relation) stars as a talking bee, was released a decade ago and that, typically, film criticism focuses on films released more recently than a decade ago. This reader would be correct in these suppositions, but wrong in their implicit conclusion, namely, that we should refrain from reviewing this film simply because it was released a decade ago.

In case you have not noticed, o astute reader, Bee Movie has become something of a “meme” as of late, meaning that this film has garnered a great deal of attention among the masses. As Marxist-Leninists, then, it is our duty to address this film and to interpret it in appropriately rigorous fashion.

What’s that, o astute reader? You have further objections? You note that Bee Movie has already received sufficient academic attention from bourgeois scholars such as the late Jack Halberstam? That in his book, the Queer Art of Failure, Halberstam interprets Bee Movie as a transgressive children’s film, but under a toothless postmodern rubric? All the more reason for us to intervene with the correct analysis! Halberstam’s analysis of Bee Movie may be prominent, but we would be remiss to abandon the working class to it, with all its glaring insufficiencies. Halberstam even identifies Bee Movie, quite incorrectly, as a Pixar film! This should not surprise us; were Halberstam able to attend to concrete matters in their specificity, he would not be a postmodernist.

In any event, Bee Movie is invaluable as a tool for understanding the inevitable failure of “progressive” liberal responses to exploitation. The film’s main character, Barry Benson, discovers with horror that millions of bees worldwide are crowded into bee farms, worked to exhaustion, only to have their honey expropriated at the end of the dreadful process. This is a clear analogy to the expropriation of surplus-value from productive labourers by the bourgeoisie. So clear, in fact, that I found it a bit on-the-nose. Such clumsy analogising would not feel out of place in the Trotskyite, imperialist spy and propagandist George Orwell’s book about pigs being more equal than sheep or whatever.

(I don’t recall the title – I’ve never read it.)

What happens next is of far more interest. For what does Benson do when he becomes conscious of his fellow bee-letarians’ exploitation? Does he form a party and organise for a bee revolution? No, dear reader, he does not. He instead brings a lawsuit against the beekeepers in a doomed attempt to resolve the contradiction through recourse to bourgeois “justice”.

After eking out a legal victory, Benson returns honey to the bees, but we can easily infer that much of the honey is promptly appropriated by a small caste of bourgeois bees (or bee-geoisie), among whose ranks Benson may count himself. This leads to maldistribution of resources and mass unemployment, which in turn spurs a massive environmental crisis. Sound familiar?

The lesson of Bee Movie, properly interpreted, is thus a Leninist one: the corridors of the bourgeois state offer no route to true emancipation: “The working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.” For this reason, we may understand Bee Movie as a progressive bourgeois film, one which may be repurposed as revolutionary propaganda in Marxist reading groups across the globe.

Patrick Warburton is also pretty funny in it.


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