So, I should know better by now, but I foolishly keep banging my head against the wall. Over and over again. And I’m tired of it. Been fighting this same fight for practically my entire life and apparently 2019 still won’t be any different.
That that battle is ignorance. The latest opponent: Bill Maher.
For a quick recap, Stan Lee, comic book creator and writer, passed away in November. And in light of the impact that his chosen art and craft has had on American society, it apparently bothered Maher to the extent that wrote a blog post about it deriding those who have an interest in the genre. The backlash to his ignorance was rather immediate with several fans, artist, writers and industry figures attempting to inform the comedian on things he either does not know or can’t possibly grasp.
Well, to his dismay, his show took a break, only to come back this month with him readying a response in his final editorial segment. I won’t go in the his commentary fully, but he began by wanting to point out that he wasn’t attacking Stan Lee, but attacking fans who read comics or indulge in comic book culture. The problem is, we fully understand that. It’s his ignorance that’s fully problematic. It’s predicated on the fact that he’s never read a comic or thinks they’re written at a 1st grade level.
His commentary was centered on his thoughts that comic books aren’t literature and superhero movies are not great cinema. That fans who liked things they did when they were children need to grow up and stop pretending the writing in comics are good because in his worldview they’re made for kids. Saying adults need to let go of childish toys and games they’ve held since childhood.
This is pretty rich though. A lifelong pot smoker that makes his living telling jokes is telling other people that they need to grow up and stop acting like children. If it weren’t as hypocritically sophomoric it’d be insulting.
For someone who proudly professes his aversion to comic books, I would be curious as to how he could possibly be sure that they are indeed written for children, but simplistic ignorance is never far from the mind in such instances. I did intend for this to describe in each case where his ignorance fails him. If he really wants adults to let go of toys and games they played as children, I’m a little curious why he couldn’t tell his guest last week, Marshawn Lynch, to do the same. I mean, football is a kids game. Marshawn’s been playing it since he was a kid. Fact of the matter is comics stop being written exclusively for children roughly 70 years ago. But what would he care? Maybe it would also escape his notice that the comic book movies he slams for being all the same about “glowy things”, one such movie just received six Academy Award nominations, one of which being for Best Picture. But we’re supposed to be the less mature one because Black Panther was one of the best received films in generations. And then his invite to ignore social parables in comics in lieu of the likes of a James Michael Eric Dyson, Toni Morrison or James Baldwin is kind of funny considering James Baldwin actually wrote a children’s book himself, which if you want to be critical of the sophistication of literature, you better continue such consistency there if you want not to be judged a hypocrite. Or what of another such writer who, given the propensity that he frequents the show, I’m certain he’d laud, Ta-nehisi Coates, that actually IS a comic book writer! Other writers like Mark Millar has been Knighted for his contributions to film and literature. Literature, Bill.
So I don’t know. Maybe James Baldwin, The Queen of England, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and multiple guest of his show show such as Coates or Aaron Magruder, Ben Affleck, Jon Favreau, Larry Wilmore, John Ridley, and Chris Hardwick that are all fully involved in the culture, maybe they all know something he don’t. I suppose it wouldn’t be so hard because it’d just require doing basic things like reading, things we learned when we were littler.
And this is the overall problem with many of you. You share his same ignorance. You judge me, you judge us for something we know you know little next to nothing about. You don’t know the stories we’ve read, the commentary we’ve seen, the magnitude of industries and wealth that has been generated. Who are you to judge us for what I find entertaining and how I receive information? This association that because something was made for or via a medium only thought to be exclusively for children, that I am somehow LESS mature than you is the kind of lame-brained idiocy I’ve heard my entire life. And virtually every other fan has heard their entire lives. And frankly, to judge someone as immature based on your own ignorance is the height of immaturity in of itself. You just see pictures in panels and limit your own cognitive function to simplistically believe that “Oh, it must be made for kids because my extent of comic books only extends what I learned years ago.” I really shouldn’t feel as if this needs explanation. But the themes and motifs that are found in comic books and have been increasingly done by designed for at least the last 50 years, are exactly what is found in virtually EVERY. OTHER. GENRE. OF. ART. AND. LITERATURE. This is just another medium or a way to convey a message or story. And to be fully honest, it shouldn’t matter how as long as it is eliciting thought and emotional response. But hey, he’s the comedian, so perhaps he knows better about being the arbiter of being taken seriously. As if a comedian telling jokes any more artful or educational?
Seriously, a COMIC passing judgement on COMIC BOOKS?