Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment has posted an open letter on Monday in response to a blog post titled ‘Adulting’ penned by comedian and “Real Time” host Bill Maher in the wake of Lee’s passing.
Maher’s initial post criticising American adults for taking comic books seriously and the overall infantilisation of modern pop culture, in the process slamming the validity of Lee’s legacy. Maher has famously been against the idea of comic book films as a format for exploring serious issues for years now, his reasoning being a variation of the old mindset that any form of cartoon, animation or graphic novel is strictly for kids.
His short post has since generated over 1,000 comments on the post itself and a much larger discussion on Twitter, Facebook and the like. In response, Lee’s company have labelled the post ‘disgusting’ and say in the open letter:
“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.”
Maher wasn’t the only person who faced backlash over their comments in the wake of Lee’s passing with beloved actor Armie Hammer dismissing people posting pictures of themselves on social media alongside Lee online, saying it made it about them as opposed to about Lee himself. “The Walking Dead” actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan called him out on it, labelling him an ‘asshat’, and Hammer has since responded with a mea culpa – apologising for his remarks.
Lee passed away last Monday at the age of 95, leaving behind a legacy of over a half-century of some of the most famous and beloved character creations in not just comics but all literary forms.