Commentator Bill Maher disparaged Stan Lee, the seminal creator of iconic comic book superheroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The Fantastic Four, in an unsolicited 293-word Saturday morning blog titled “Adulting.”
Twitter was quick to rebut Maher’s cultural musings after he mocked the late Lee’s widely-appreciated work, belittled millions of people who value comics, and broadly labeled comics as “stupid stuff.”
“I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider,” Maher wrote, before adding, “The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff.”
Distilling decades of comic book history, culture, and meaning down to a short, oversimplified opinion is naturally going provoke the ire of the public, especially those who possess a greater familiarity of both comics and Lee’s intellectual influence.
As Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg wrote following the comic legend’s Nov. 12 death: “Lee, and through him Marvel, recognized that superheroes were still fundamentally human, capable of all the same flaws and fears as anyone else. It’s a mindset that led to more human stories, but also one that unavoidably flirted with the political climate as well.”
Sophisticated literature can come in many forms, and if you write off an entire industry because you’re too stupid to see that? Well. I feel sorry for you.
Also, Bill Maher’s show isn’t exactly sophisticated television compared to a Breaking Bad or a Sopranos.
— 🍗 .ashley. 🍁 (@AshleyEsqueda) November 17, 2018
I also notice that people who shit on comics as irrelevant don’t usually read them or haven’t since they were kids many decades ago. Kind of like hating opera, even though you can’t name a single one you’ve ever seen or listened to.
— Darick Robertson (@DarickR) November 17, 2018
Bill Maher dismissed an entire storytelling medium?
Wow. He’s so highbrow.
His brow is so high, there’s probably less room for a mind.
— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylorMade) November 17, 2018
I never speak on topics I know little or nothing about. Why? I never want to be the fool. In other words, I don’t wanna make a Bill Maher out of myself. 🤘🏻✏️🤘🏻
— Greg Capullo (@GregCapullo) November 17, 2018
It’s crazy to me that Bill Maher is using Stan Lee’s death to insult the maturity of comic book fans. It’s crazily out of character for him to try to assert his intellectual superiority over the ignorant masses in a shrill, strident, obnoxious and attention-seeking way.
— Nathan Rabin (@nathanrabin) November 17, 2018
As New York Times reporters Jonathan Kandell and Andy Webster noted, “Under Mr. Lee, Marvel transformed the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.”
Maher, forever a firestarter, probably wrote what he wrote to provoke a response. That doesn’t make the drags aimed at him any less entertaining, though.
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