Yes, the across-the-board worshiping of Stan Lee's death should never be condemned. Lee was, by all accounts, a good man who, in this last turn of the century, ended up being one of the most important and revolutionary figures for pop culture and the mainstream. Superhero movies are all the rage these days, and have been since "X-Men" was released in 2000. And so, what's resulted in these 18 years since that film's release is the corporate Marvel-ization of mainstream movies. Nostalgia took over, mass infantilization if you will; fanboy culture has risen.
That's what Bill Maher is saying. The Real Time host wrote a blog post about the Stan Lee effect and how the late Marvel creator's infantilization of our culture is responsible for Donald J. Trump being elected in 2016:
“The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning,” Maher wrote. “Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess."
“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. 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.
“But then twenty years or so ago, something happened — adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature. And because America has over 4,500 colleges — which means we need more professors than we have smart people — some dumb people got to be professors by writing theses with titles like ‘Otherness and Heterodoxy in the Silver Surfer’. And now 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.
“I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider. The average Joe is smarter in a lot of ways than he was in, say, the 1940s, when a big night out was a Three Stooges short and a Carmen Miranda musical. The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff. 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.