…and that is being as kind as I can be. Bill Maher is part of a group on the American political left who thinks that they have a lease on reason, understanding, intelligence and knowledge predicated on their religious devotion to Scientism. It is funny that he in his Evangelical Atheism has created his own religion of Science-ish. He routinely dismisses religion in a condescending manner, puffed up with arrogance and confidence yet ignoring all his own logical inconsistencies and his cherry picking of history to create his self-serving revisionist false narratives. But I digress, I’ll flesh that one out later. Right now, I would like to discuss Maher’s disrespect to not just comic book fans in general, but his timing in attaching that disrespect to besmirching the work and legacy of the comic book legend, Stan Lee.
Maher had a blog post on Nov 17, 2018, where he makes the ridiculous connection between the popularity of comic books, comic book characters and the films that they inspired to the election of Donald Trump. Instead of looking at the fact that his type of faux intellectual smugness on his version of the left was and is one of the critical agitating factors that got Trump elected; he, like many of his particular “liberal / progressive” type have been blaming “uneducated Whites” or “white working class without college degrees” for the ills of the nation as well. I wrote a bit about these things in an article about Hillary Clinton.
Back to the point, this is not to say all or even most liberals are like this, this is specific to the crowd that Maher is representative of. Oddly, for someone who double majored in History and English at Cornell of all places, one would think he would have a basic understanding of how literature works. True, comic books and the genre of super heroes were initially geared towards children. But as time passed and that base audience grew and matured, so did the characters and the stories with them. Inspired by Lee, Ditko and Kirby writers like Chris Clairmont, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Alex Ross, Mark Waid, and others utilized the familiar characters of comics to tell extraordinary stories that reflected the modern sociopolitical and cultural world that we lived in. As with the other epic tales written during the last 5,000 years of human history of fantasy and science fiction; the comic book literature stories of gods, elves, witches, sorcerers, mutants, monsters, spaceships and alien races, were stories that were in fact about humanity. The story of us framed in the color of myth.
Though Maher claims to be a secularist, and claims the copyright to the term reason for his "Religulous" adherents; true secular academic study of religion by historians, social anthropologists, sociologists, etc understands the value of myth. Even if one doesn't believe in God, gods, demons or angels, one can understand that the stories written in many sacred texts are at least reflective of humanity. That there are things that are taught to us that endure past the generations in the myths and religious stories of our past. Perhaps it is Maher's prejudice and willful ignorance regarding these topics that he projects on to the comic book genre, since it is myth. Modern American mythology and Stan the Man Lee was responsible for a great deal of those myths. Maher can't grasp the concept of how Spider Man and his actual teenage problems were relatable to many teens and that as those teens turned into adults, so did Spider Man.
Stan Lee inspired children to utilize their imaginations as well as taught lessons of morality and made young children think about issues of racism, inequality, adolescent problems, drug use, alchohalism, etc with bright colored superheroes, and those children became adults who were more tolerant and respectful of people they looked different from or acted different from. But Maher is simply too stupid to understand that. Maybe that’s why he is stupid enough to tie Trump's election to a genre of American entertainment. Maher stated:
“And because America has over 4,500 colleges – which means we need more professors than we have smart people – some dumb people got to be professors..”
Let’s look at his so-called reason and logic. He is part of a sociopolitical group that derides the “uneducated”….but claims we have too many colleges and not enough “smart people” to be professors; because the field of literature has evolved since his bachelor degree was awarded to him in 1978 and Maher is too silly and stupid and full of himself to take the time to understand that.
To Maher I say what I have been saying to Trump supporters and neoliberals for the last couple of years….read a damn book! I have two suggestions for Maher: “The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma” by David Paul Kuhn and "Kingdom Come" by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. He can learn more about the “uneducated” population he so often derides to get a better understanding of how Trump became president. The second, so Maher can get a grip on the reality that comic book literature has evolved past the dime store soda shop experience of his youth.
Maher, Bill. “Adulting” Real Time with Bill Maher Blog, November 17, 2018, http://www.real-time-with-bill-maher-blog.com/index/2018/11/16/adulting