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Seinfeld has said sorry for Bee Movie’s sexual content. The hivemind sees why | Animation in film

Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t need to be reflective. At this point, his sitcom – dead for almost 25 years – is still making money faster than any human being could spend it. When it finished its run in 1998, he was earning a million dollars an episode. He has earned tens of millions more in syndication deals. And now Seinfeld has arrived on Netflix as part of a deal worth over $500m. So Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t need to be reflective. He can quite happily insulate himself from regret, using all the wads and wads of cash he has lying around the place.

But still, something has clearly been nagging at him. Between all the hoo-hah of the Netflix deal – which, let’s not forget, has seen him dress up in a giant Lego costume of himself and tip hundreds of Lego bricks into his mouth for reasons that may never be fully explained – Seinfeld has taken the time to take stock of his past mistakes and apologise for the most egregious error of his life. Making a film about a bee that wanted to have sex with a human woman.

Jerry Seinfeld, Reneé Zellweger and friend at the UK premiere of Bee Movie, 2007.
Jerry Seinfeld, Reneé Zellweger and friend at the UK premiere of Bee Movie, 2007. Photograph: Gareth Davies/Getty Images

The stock of Seinfeld’s 2007 animated comedy Bee Movie has risen precipitously in the years since its release. At the time it came out, it was largely ignored as a folly; a plaything for a bored millionaire wasteful enough to make an entire film out of what is arguably the worst pun in cinematic history. Contemporary reviews were dismissive. But it was a children’s movie, so children saw it. And then those children grew up and, in a collective epiphany, realised “Hang on, was that a film about a bee trying to have sex with a human woman?”

And now, in this punishing climate where every past transgression is summoned back for judgment, Seinfeld has understood that it is time to address this. Yes, in Bee Movie, Jerry Seinfeld played a bee. Yes, in Bee Movie, Reneé Zellweger played a human. Yes, in Bee Movie, the bee was uncomfortably horny for the human. And, at the very least, Seinfeld wants to address this.

Appearing on The Tonight Show last week, Seinfeld mentioned Bee Movie in passing. And when the title got bigger-than-expected applause from the audience, he broke off from his anecdote and said “I apologise for what seems to be a certain uncomfortable subtle sexual aspect of the Bee Movie. [It] really was not intentional, but after it came out, I realised this is really not appropriate for children. The bee seemed to have a thing for the girl. And we don’t really want to pursue that as an idea in children’s entertainment.”

While at first this seems like a joke, it’s true that Bee Movie has inspired some incredibly weird fans. You can buy Bee Movie phone cases called Barry Benson is HOT AF. An adult website exists that contains a video entitled ‘Bee Movie trailer but every time they say bee a Japanese girl moans’. Someone has written a piece of Bee Movie fanfiction – you’re going to have to find this one yourselves – about Seinfeld’s bee inserting himself into Zellweger’s human and realising with horror that she is pregnant with a human baby.

Bee Movie.
Bee Movie. Photograph: Allstar/Dreamworks SKG

Perhaps this is to be expected. You cannot make a movie that contains jokes about bee incest, lust that exists between bees and humans and – if memory serves correctly – a horny daydream about a human bursting into a flames and dying as part of a ritualised bee courtship, and not expect some weirdness to come out of it.

But then this, of course, is Bee Movie’s appeal. Jerry Seinfeld will always be most famous for Seinfeld, a television sitcom that looked and felt exactly like a television sitcom. But history is destined to remember him for Bee Movie, a kid’s cartoon that looked and felt like a highly specific imported sex DVD. It was a bold swing, and arguably Netflix should pay Seinfeld another half-billion dollars to make a sequel. The last thing he should do is apologise for it.