What links Mr Bean to George Bush via the Wu-Tang Clan? | Culture

v bean Bee

Rowan Atkinson stars in Man vs. Bee… Photograph: Getty Images

Life contains many mysteries. Chief among them: Netflix’s commissioning algorithm which, with Man vs. Bee, can be summed up in the word “bee” sounding like “bean”. Rowan Atkinson revives his trademark physical comedy pitting the unfortunate Trevor in a battle against a bee. Or maybe Netflix was drawn to the bee’s role in pop culture…

“Covered in bees!”

Wu-Tang Clan
…and bees are referenced on Wu-Tang Clan’s Clan in Da Front… Photograph: Getty Images

From Eddie Izzard’s bee bite in his 1997 set Glorious to the running bee/pearl joke in Arrested Development, bees are on a swarm. The highlight of bee pop culture remains the role of “killer bees” in the world of Wu-Tang Clan: originally referenced on Clan in Da Front, from their masterful debut. Also mentioned is trailblazing vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

Political buzz

Geraldine Ferraro
…just like Geraldine Ferraro, who represented the left in CNN’s Crossfire… Photograph: Getty Images

Ferrari — “heartbroken” as GZA put it — and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Walter Mondale suffered a bombardment from Reagan and Bush in 1984. In the mid-1990s, she briefly represented the left in theater of CNN’s Crossfire political puppets.

Partisan hacks

Tucker-Carlson
…hosted by Tucker Carlson, who was ridiculed by Jon Stewart… Photograph: Getty Images

Crossfire came crashing down in 2004 when Jon Stewart busted his hosts Paul Begala and Tucker-Carlson. Carlson looked more like an opportunistic country club Republican — now he’s seized on opportunistic populism. The CNN incident helped popularize the “The liberal humorist explains politics to you” era that Stewart launched on The Daily Show — his AppleTV+ series The Problem didn’t reach the same heights.

The conspiracy of the bees

bee-movie
…who appeared on a chat show hosted by Jerry Seinfeld, who directed Bee Movie. Photography: TM & © 2007 Dreamworks Animation

Stewart left The Daily Show in 2015; a year earlier, he was one of many comedians to appear on Jerry Seinfeld’s chat show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix), showcasing Seinfeld’s endless love of comedy, coffee and cars. Earlier in Jerry’s post-sitcom life, he directed the animated film bee-movie. Much like Seinfeld, Atkinson is a classic car enthusiast. But these are the bees we think of here, all over your planet.

Pairing notes

look Among the many documentaries on bees, Honeyland, nominated for an Oscar in 2019, a “miraculous feat” about a North Macedonian beekeeper with difficult neighbors, is a must.

To eat by Steve BenbowLondon Honey Company produces honey, available online and in its store in Bermondsey.

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