Bill Maher clarified — yet also doubled down — on his controversial comments about the late Marvel legend Stan Lee.
The HBO Real Time host told Larry King in an interview posted Wednesday that he didn’t intend any offense to Lee’s memory, but that comic book fandom culture’s explosive reaction to his diss “proves my point.”
“Talk about making my point for me,” Maher said. “Yeah, I don’t know very much about Stan Lee and it certainly wasn’t a swipe at Stan Lee…I am agnostic on Stan Lee. I don’t read comic books. I didn’t even read them when I was a child. What I was saying is: A culture that thinks that comic books and comic book movies are profound meditations on the human condition is a dumb f—ing culture. And for people to, like, get mad at that just proves my point.”
The talk show host claimed he didn’t even realize people were mad because he doesn’t “follow social media like that, every stupid thing people lose their s— about.”
Originally, Maher wrote on his Real Time blog, “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,” he wrote in the post, which he titled “Adulting. “Someone on Reddit posted, ‘I’m so incredibly grateful I lived in a world that included Stan Lee.’ Personally, I’m grateful I lived in a world that included oxygen and trees, but to each his own.
“Now, I have nothing against comic books — I read them now and then when I was a kid and I was all out of Hardy Boys,” he explained. “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 went on to write how, in the past 20 years, “adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff” and “pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature,” while “some dumb people got to be professors by writing theses with titles like Otherness and Heterodoxy in the Silver Surfer.
“And now,” he continued, “when adults are forced to do grown-up things like buy auto insurance, they call it ‘adulting’ and act like it’s some giant struggle.”
Maher concluded his blog post by claiming our culture hasn’t “necessarily gotten stupider,” we’re just “using our smarts on stupid stuff.” He added, “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.”
Lee’s team previously slammed the comments in an open letter as “frankly disgusting” and replied, “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 … 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!'”