The Internet is all abuzz with this lighthearted tribute to Manchester, Mancunians, science fiction, and bees. But is the author simply winging it?
Last Tuesday was the one year anniversary of the tragic terrorist attack at a Manchester concert venue which killed twenty-two people and injured hundreds more. The day was marked by prayers, speeches, tears, floral tributes, and capped by a mass sing-along in Albert Square estimated at over ten thousand people:
I always think singing says more than sermons, but I did watch part of the services at Manchester Cathedral live via YouTube.
I had written something serious at the time of the event last year. But as laughter is also good medicine, I thought I’d post something funny about Manchester’s renewed identification with the bee as a symbol of– what, exactly?
An article in The Guardian suggests: ‘Peaceful but not to be messed with’ – how the bee came to symbolise Manchester. Apparently, Manchester’s cotton mills were once colloquially known as beehives.
But neither industriousness nor spikiness seem the qualities which formed the iconography of bees after the 2017 terrorist attack. Rather, it’s as if the Mancunian hive mind suddenly hit on cheerfulness as a quality of bees. They don’t give in to despair or melancholia, don’t isolate themselves and pine. They stay together, fly right, and keep to their schedules. They carry on producing sweet honey.
Like Mancunians post May 2017, bees are also an endangered species:
And in a diverse city which can’t always agree on words, the bee may be a shared icon which transcends language, a visual code signifying oneness and positivity. In a city where people practice many religions (or none at all), the bee may have become a universal symbol for feelings that would otherwise get lost in translation.
But how does science fiction treat the bee, particularly bad or camp sci-fi? This pressing question, pondered by sages, is precisely what we’ll tackle in the clips below:
Before viewing our next sci-fi clip, let’s take a short musical break. After all, the lilting melodies of Rimsky-Korsakov might have a soothing effect on bees:
Bees! Are you soothed and sleepy yet? If not, perhaps the style was too vigorous. What we need is a more innocent, childlike approach:
Still not sleepy? Well, tonight’s Late Late Late Show happens to feature:
In response to such an eccentric artefact from the 70s, one can only wax philosophical and say: It be what it be…
Clearly, cheerfulness and industry are not the only qualities we can ascribe to bees. Their hive minds may strike some as a threat to human individuality, and their female superior culture can easily be twisted into a femme fatale meme.
Their industriousness might be given a murderous bent by the perennial mad beekeeper. And even the casual stray bee has proven a nuisance to Wimbledon competitors. But I think Mancunians have the right idea in staying busy and cheerful.
“But I still don’t understand what motivated them.” –Captain Peters (Cliff Osmond) at the end of Invasion of the Bee Girls
When riffing on The Deadly Bees, Crow T. Robot suggests these book titles:
- How To Raise Bees To Kill People
- Beekeeping for Lunatics
- Apiaries for the Criminally Insane
Mike Nelson: Just for today I thought I’d communicate as the bees do.
Tom Servo: Bees communicate through movement and odour.
Mike Nelson: I’ll just be using movement.
What does this post have in common with the New Testament?
Answer: They’re both concerned with bee attitudes!
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