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Merely days after the death of the comic world’s superhero, Stan Lee, television host and political commentator Bill Maher has blamed him for creating a culture responsible for electing President Donald Trump.
Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 95, was the creator or co-creator of characters such as the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men. How this led a generation to elect Trump is unclear from Maher’s post, titled “Adulting,” that he shared on his blog early Saturday.
“The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning,” he wrote in his post. “Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.”
He acknowledged that he himself read comic books as a child and has nothing against them. But, he said, they ought to be left behind with one’s childhood, and that “dumb people” had become professors by writing theses on issues centering comic books.
“I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important,” he then wrote in the concluding remarks, arriving to the point with no basis behind his statement.
The post on his website generated nearly 300 comments in 23 hours, most of them criticizing his stance. Some wrote they otherwise agree with his political position (you know, the racist, ableist, and Islamophobic ones that he’s known for) but did not agree with his criticism of comic book culture.
“Stan Lee created a legacy in this country and around the world, instead of just being mournful for fans of both, you take the inhumane approach and alienate more people from listening to you,” wrote one commenter. “Again as I said I used to be a fan, but your lack of simple humanity has turned me against your posts, videos, shows, and I encourage everyone to stop spending on your crap.”
Others shared their thoughts on Twitter.
I don't think it's a huge stretch to suggest Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks Bill Maher is relevant. https://t.co/sXkpQT2qFH— Kelvin (@OnBaseUnit) November 17, 2018
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
Some pointed out the irony of criticizing Maher over his comics essay even though he’s always been known to have extremist views.
How is THIS the straw on Bill Maher for some people— uzi (@uzionmain) November 16, 2018
I was fine with Bill Maher when he was being racist and sexist and wanted to kill everyone in the Middle East but I draw the line at his making fun of Spiderman comics— Christopher M (@mammothfactory) November 17, 2018
So let me get this straight, it wasn't Bill Maher's years of casual racism and blasting Muslims that was the breaking point for some people, it was the fact that he said Stan Lee and comics made Americans dumb? Sounds about white.— 🇯🇲Black🇭🇹Aziz🇳🇬aNANsi🇹🇹 (@Freeyourmindkid) November 17, 2018
Bill Maher disrespected Stan Lee? Wow this totally changes my previously high opinion of that smug Islamophobic racist misogynistic attention-whore.— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) November 17, 2018
Bill Maher 'bout to be outta here. The white fanboys who tell Blacks, women, POC and muslims to get over his insults and slurs can't stand having their own culture mocked.— Torraine Walker (@TorraineWalker) November 17, 2018
Who knows? Maybe for many, this is the last straw on a man described aptly as someone who only attacks the powerless and otherwise known for his Islamophobic remarks, or for comparing a dog to a “retarded child,” or for using the N-word on a live show. Regardless, as comic book writer G. Willow Wilson points out, he’s achieved an incredible feat: Getting comic fans to agree that he’s wrong.
Bill Maher has done the impossible: gotten the entirety of comics fandom to agree on something— G. Willow Wilson (@GWillowWilson) November 17, 2018
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque