Here’s Stan “The Man” Lee. Because Bill Maher doesn’t deserve to have his face on NerdBastards.
On November 17, 2018, Politically Incorrect talk show how host, Bill Maher took to his website to post a blog entry on the death of Stan Lee and the world’s reaction to losing the champion of comic books and imagination. Mr. Maher spent three paragraphs belittling comic book readers, specifically adult readers. He went on in his tirade of insults, reducing Stan Lee’s work and his impact on society as “using our smarts on stupid stuff”.
Does Maher have a point? Does any of his argument hold water? Or is he an out-of-touch, pompous blowhard trying to get some clicks on his website by riding on the coattails of the death of a man far greater than he’ll ever be?
Let’s break down some of Maher’s complaints about adult comic book readers. He implies that only “big-boy books without the pictures” are literature for adults, while we should be leaving behind the comic books of our childhood.
Maher misses the millions of dollars adults spend on comic books. Maher would probably laugh at the term “sequential art”. Look at Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Jason Aaron’s Scalped, and Top Cow’s Sunstone and Sugar (respectively) and still say those are children’s books. Somehow adding a visual aspect to the medium makes it “stupid”. Never mind the talent, the hours, the collaboration, the hard work that all goes into making the 20-something pages. From writer, penciler, inker, colorist, letterer, editor and more, each person takes their years of training to make their art. But Maher still finds it menial and something worth his contempt.
Maher goes on to claim we have so many colleges in America that we’re forced to have more professors than we have smart people, so therefore “some dumb people got to be professors by writing theses with titles like Otherness and Heterodoxy in the Silver Surfer.”
Now, that’s a sentiment that is shared by even some in the comic book community today; Maher isn’t alone in that way of thinking. But by dissecting our art, questioning it, pulling it apart and putting it back together again, we better understand the world around us, and ourselves. Without dissecting the “otherness and heterodoxy” of Silver Surfer, some may never come to an understanding about other people or themselves that they have through the art and the medium. Without inventors and scientists looking at Star Trek and pondering “How would a communicator like that work?” we may never have had the age of the Flip Phone mobile device. Arguing over whether or not Superman or Batman would win in a fight might be trivial, and get can wildly out of hand by passionate fans, but asking HOW Superman or Batman would overcome the other and we begin to learn and see things we normally would’ve missed. Asking who airs up the Batmobile’s tires and how Superman’s flight works may seem silly on the outside, but by fleshing out these ideas the worlds grow into something more concrete, something that other ideas can build on.
Mr. Maher continues to say “and now when adults are forced to do grown-up things like buying auto insurance, they call it “adulting,” and act like it’s some giant struggle.”
Yes, reducing our responsibilities, trivializing them into mere moments of “adulting” helps make them seem smaller, easier to manage. By commiserating with our peers over being forced to “adult”, we bring humor and light-heartedness to otherwise mundane and sometimes stressful tasks. Finding the humor in the situation, finding imaginative ways to handle the responsibility that comes with the power of being a full-fledged adult is one of the many lessons Stan Lee taught through his stories.
Thank God we have a guide and compass like Bill Maher to steer us towards what’s right and proper entertainment for adults to consume. Clearly, instead of wasting our brain power on comic books we should be doing more grown-up things! We could be tuning into his TV show, for example. Or further following in his idyllic example, we could invite neo-nazis and white supremacists to debate us in front of everyone, further normalizing their rhetoric and hateful stances.
Maybe Maher isn’t all bad. He can be intelligent, progressive, and has shown that he has the ability to be a top-notch human being on occasion. As just two examples, he supports more progressive cannabis laws and is a staunch advocate for same-sex marriage rights. However, he does have the problem of shooting his mouth off and saying things for shock value on more than one occasion. When his comments target things people are passionate about it elicits a passionate response.
Much like the response Stan Lee’s company penned; an open letter to Maher on their website, in a beautiful, poignant and respectful reply.
Frankly, Mr. Maher, your words ring of an old white guy who is out of touch with real people out in the real world, spending too much time entrenched in politics for the sake of entertainment. You have no idea what real people go through, what they need to cope with being an actual person out in the world today. Stan Lee taught people to respect those that are different, taught those that are different that they had a place in the world even if others didn’t see it. Stan Lee taught us as children and continued to teach us as adults, and it sounds like you needed and still need more Stan Lee in your life, Mr. Maher. You’ve proven that you can be better than the words you spoke on this subject.
Maher may look at the state of the world around us and think that the passing of Stan and the response to that from the public at large may seem trivial. Maher may think that the idea that we could all be so passionate about losing Stan Lee but not about climate change or human rights may have outraged him a bit. Maybe that’s not an irrational idea. But where Maher faltered was in thinking that expressing our grief in losing someone found to be great somehow lessens our outrage against things that we deal with on a daily basis. The world, fans, need to stop and express that loss in whatever way they deem necessary to continue to combat the things in the world we want to change more effectively. And where Maher really went wrong is by belitting those who are passionate about something he doesn’t understand. That changed his righteous indignation into hateful name-calling that stole all of the respect from whatever high ground he may of had.
Let it be repeated, ‘when his comments target things people are passionate about it elicits a passionate response’. In closing, I don’t think it could be better said than comic book writer and comic book adult reader Neil Gaiman’s tweet. So I’ll be letting him have the final word.
Maher’s just trolling, and lots of people are rising to the troll. (Julie Burchill did it better 30 years ago with her “There aren’t any adult comics because adults don’t read comics” line. ) More people cared about Stan Lee’s death than care about Bill Maher alive. https://t.co/yRzFCYQBzl
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 17, 2018
What do you think? Does Maher have a point? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter.