Bill Maher responds to backlash over Stan Lee comments, tells comic book fans to 'grow up'

Dr Zaius

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May 1, 2001
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Bill Maher responds to backlash over Stan Lee comments, tells comic fans to 'grow up'

Interesting story. While we’re on the subject of Stan Lee and the value of comics in popular culture, here are a few points which might be worth further consideration.

First, Stan Lee used his power and influence to fight bigotry and injustice all his career, certainly long before it was trendy or hip to do so.

Second, people will be talking about Stan Lee’s creations long after his death and there’s every indication his influence will be felt for many, many years to come. Might be interesting to hear Bill Maher reflect on exactly why he thinks that is.

Third, if we’re going to dismiss this episode as nothing more than Maher just trying to get laughs, then taking a shot at an old man who just died and can no longer defend his work seems a particularly odd way to go about it. But perhaps he doesn’t need to. Perhaps Stan already said all that he felt he needed to say and it’s all right there in his work.

Fourth, since Maher’s humor is almost always designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator among his fawning audiences, I don’t know that he’s the best qualified spokesman to be making an argument for the merits of, say, Herman Melville, over the work of Stan Lee. Just saying.

Last, do comic books have a tendency to take complex issues and dumb them down into simplistic good vs. evil templates? Sure. Are the motivations of characters sometimes shallow or not explained at all? Very often, yes. Are the stories mostly feel-good pap not worthy of the attention of thoughtful adults? Not so fast. I don’t know that anyone ever argued that comic books are high literature, nor do I think Stan Lee would have made that argument himself. However, the mythology of comics can be fascinating, if for no other reason than there isn’t a lot of space, so stories have to be boiled down to essential fundamentals. That can be a raw, direct way to tell a story, which a lot of people, regardless of age, respond to.

And if there's a recurring theme in Stan Lee's work it was good over evil and people taking responsibility to make the world a better place. It must said, that's not such a bad legacy to leave behind. And if his pulpy creations inspire grown men to dress up and have some fun, then perhaps the world could use a bit more of such silliness.


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Apr 20, 2004
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“Bragging that you’re all about the Marvel universe is like boasting that your mother still pins your mittens to your sleeve,”

Now I don't much like Bill Maher but I have to admit, that is funny.