Over the weekend, HBO talk show host/professional smug stain Bill Maher used his platform to take more than a few unnecessary jabs at mourning comic book fans of Stan Lee, who died only five days prior. Now, the late creator’s company POW! Entertainment has responded to Maher’s criticism, in a charitable effort to remind him that both shutting up and basic decency remain free to all.
“One lesson Stan taught so many of us was tolerance and respect,” Team Stan writes in an open letter posted on the company’s website, “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.” The letter goes on to cite the “comedian’s” reductive assessment that Lee was simply a man that inspired people to watch movies, calling his judgment “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,” the company writes. And that’s true, for the most part. Villains do have the capacity to show glimpses of humanity. They also have a proclivity to toss around the n-word, spread anti-Muslim rhetoric, lend their platform to unapologetic Nazi sympathizers, and take a totally unsolicited swipe at people who dared to mourn a decent guy, making locating that humanity a little tough.