Legendary Marvel creator Stan Lee passed away on November 12th after a career spanning decades and a hand in creating some of the biggest pop-culture icons of our time.
Stan Lee and his creations have inspired countless individuals around the globe, all of whom mourned his death. Bill Maher on the other hand used the occasion to express his belief that comics have contributed to the dumbing down of America. The comedian and TV host posted on the Real Time with Bill Maher blog over the weekend by saying,
“The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning. Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.”
“Now, I have nothing against comic books,” Maher continued. “I read them now and then when I was a kid and I was all out of Hardy Boys. But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures.” Maher then criticized those who refused to give up “kid stuff” and who “pretend” that comics could be sophisticated literature, even saying that “Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.” Were he still alive, you can only imagine how Stan Lee himself would have responded to such a statement, but the folks behind Lee’s POW! Entertainment took it on themselves to address Bill Maher’s comments in an open letter which you can read below.
Mr. Maher: Comic books, like all literature, are storytelling devices. When written well by great creators such as Stan Lee, they make us feel, make us think and teach us lessons that hopefully make us better human beings. One lesson Stan taught so many of us was tolerance and respect, and thanks to that message, we are grateful that we can say you have a right to your opinion that comics are childish and unsophisticated. Many said the same about Dickens, Steinbeck, Melville and even Shakespeare.
But to say that Stan merely inspired people to “watch a movie” is in our opinion frankly disgusting. Countless people can attest to how Stan inspired them to read, taught them that the world is not made up of absolutes, that heroes can have flaws and even villains can show humanity within their souls. He gave us the X-Men, Black Panther, Spider-Man and many other heroes and stories that offered hope to those who felt different and bullied while inspiring countless to be creative and dream of great things to come.
These are but a few of the things we the fans of Stan Lee also consider “adulting,” because life both as a child and grown-up can indeed be a struggle. Stan is the author of millions of happy childhood memories and the provider of so many of the positive tools of adulthood.
Our shock at your comments makes us want to say “‘Nuff said, Bill,” but instead we will rely on another of Stan’s lessons to remind you that you have a powerful platform, so please remember: “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!”