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Appearing on The Tonight Show Friday, in part to promote all nine seasons of his iconic comedy Seinfeld coming to Netflix, host Jimmy Fallon broached the comedian’s “recent birthday,” to which Seinfeld responded that he had not had a recent birthday. He did, however, acknowledge that he turned 67 this year and explained why that might come as a shocker to some people.
“It always takes longer than people think, you know, to be a comedian. I had to go on the Tonight Show and Letterman like 80 times and then roast my nuts doing a TV series for nine years. Then I had to get married — I got married a 45. That takes a long time to find a great person,” he said.
“I had three kids. I had to straighten their insane asses out, and then I had to make a movie with a bee,” he continued, to audience cheers and applause.
That’s when Seinfeld went on to directly address the long-running jokes around the animated children’s movie, which some viewers have said features an implied romantic relationship and attraction between the movie’s main characters. Those two characters are the Seinfeld-voiced bee, Barry B. Benson, and the film’s animated leading lady, Vanessa Bloome, a florist voiced by Renée Zellweger.
“I apologize for what seems to be a certain uncomfortable subtle sexual aspect of the Bee Movie,” he began. “[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.”
The film’s writers and director addressed the conversation around the romantic undertones between the Bee Movie’s leading insect and woman in a 2017 anniversary interview with the New Statesman, clarifying that while it may appear like there is some kind of attraction happening, that was never the plan.
“It was never going to be sexual or anything like that,” Steve Hickner, the director, said at the time. “It was purely this friendship. … Maybe in Barry’s mind, he thought — but it was never going to be that.”
Writer Barry Marder described the idea of “a bee and a woman carrying on” as “weird to begin with.” Fellow writer Spike Feresten also noted that while people are generally either “entertained or repulsed” by the story, an “interspecies love affair” isn’t something they wanted to sell to children.
As for how those undertones may have happened, Feresten said it was likely a result of losing sight of what was happening between Barry and Vanessa.
“Often, we would lose sight of those characters in the room. 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 saying 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.”
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