Bill Maher, HBO talk show host of Real Time, is a self professed hater. Yes, we know how much he hates Donald Trump, but that’s been a predictable burden of his for decades. His new hate lumps as avalanche for comic books, and subsequently, the genre which powers them – science fiction.
He hates comic books. More accurately – according to Grandpa Bill himself – he dismisses comic books and superheroes as being childish. Even if it was the case, and most fans would disagree, Maher’s equated childish or childlike things as a negative. Apparently, he’s a self appointed arbiter of the public’s pop culture taste.
He’s now forbade, even shamed adults from enjoying pulp fiction. Maybe grown-ups should also stop watching Disney animated movies. Guess if it was up to the acerbic cable talk show host, he’d only let kids read em or watch spin-off films or TV shows. I suppose adults would be sent off to reeducation camps to wipe the shameful stain of comic exploits from their immature brains.
Of course, as loyal comic book fans know, science fiction lies at the complex core of our classic super hero archetype. Sci-fi, in all its awe inspiring glory, is what makes comic books tick.
Grandpa Bill Still Yells At Clouds – He’s Getting Old
We’re all getting older. Grandpa Bill’s almost 65 – certainly not a young guy. Some of us stave off the ravages of the biological clock better than others.
Granted, Maher seems in pretty good shape physically, but in terms of his hip factor, obviously not so much. Simple fact is superheroes are among the hippest, coolest things in pop culture these days.
But is such hip factor really a new phenomenon?
Right Before Bill Maher Was Born
We can go way back to the 1940’s – right before Grandpa Bill was born – to look at the comic hip factor. Before the multi-billion dollar explosion of today’s box office blockbusters, we had the Shadow and Superman on radio. A kid – or childish adult – could also grab a bucket of popcorn and catch Batman chapter serials and Superman cartoons at a movie theater. Shortly thereafter, in the then new TV explosion of the 1950’s, the granddaddy of superhero TV, Adventures of Superman, graced our embryonic boob tube’s broadcast landscape.
Superman on TV exploded as a mega hit. It was so popular, so beloved – by both kids and adults – that sadly, its leading man, George Reeves, could never quite shed his Kryptonian image. All identified him with the role – both children and adults – so much so producers refused to cast him in much more. His stereotyped career apparently propelled him to take his own life.
Grandpa Bill, what does all that comic book goodness in the 1940’s and 50’s tell us?
Superhero and comic book popularity are not new. Both grabbed hold of our collective imaginations well over seven decades ago. Count em, Grandpa Bill. Nearly 80 years is how long comic book born adventures have fascinated the USA. Long before Donald Trump became president, Americans loved comic books, plus the magical allure of super heroes.
Adam West Was Batman
Adam West recently passed on. The actor thrilled generations playing a living comic book legend. Sure, today’s Batman may be personified by Christian Bale or Ben Affleck, but West’s TV Batman proved so popular in the 1960’s, the cream of Hollywood’s crop lined up to star in it.
Mega stars like Joan Collins, Eartha Kitt, Vincent Price and Roddy McDowell and dozens more, starred as guest villains of the week. It’s said legendary crooner Frank Sinatra was such a devoted Batman fan, he longed to appear alongside West. Grandpa Bill, was Frank Sinatra a big adulting man baby? Old Blue Eyes childish?
Bill Maher’s obsessive need to corral us into a society he feels runs better, is more elite or just plain more ‘Grandpa Bill’ plays as comic book fun itself. He reminds one of Grandpa Simpson – an old man crying and shouting at anything which doesn’t agree with him. It doesn’t make sense to Bill Maher why we like comic books. Well, Grandpa Bill, it doesn’t really have to. You love telling us how much you enjoy smoking pot. Must you give concrete reasons why you regularly toke up?
Bill Maher’s like a buffoonish comic book villain. He’d be perfectly cast as some asinine psychopath trying to rid our world of evil, decadent comic books. Perhaps Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons stops his dastardly plans. Worst Super Villain Ever!
Yeah, Bill Maher’s pretty scary. He scares off all who hear him as epitome of the dread, mind cleansing censor. They wag their fingers at us, screeching they know best.
“Blasted comic movies and TV shows are bad, childish! You shouldn’t ingest them. They’re bad for you!”
Similar ignorant and reactionary things were said about Rock N Roll, by the less enlightened. Maher’s also perfectly in line with ultra-religious zealots who said similar things in the 1950’s – which finally gave us the Comic Code Authority – a kind of holier than thou censorship bureau. Maher fits right at home as conservative head of the CCA.
One Man’s Poison, Another Man’s Meat
One man’s poison is another man’s meat. Let’s take the old adage to heart. Apparently for Maher that the American public keeps attending a comic book buffet en masse must poison him to no end. Bill Maher is so desperate to support his implied comic censorship, this infamous atheist resorts to quoting the bible.
On his last Real Time With Bill Maher, Maher talked up this biblical passage, from Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
This hypocrisy comes from a man who produced a documentary called, Religulous – a scathing condemnation on all world religions. Suddenly, conveniently, and evidently desperately, Maher now clings to the bible. It’s now Grandpa Maher’s bible to attack Stan Lee fans. Apparently, Maher not only knows what’s childish, but admonishes us to obey the bible – a book he’s famously disavowed.
Science Fiction, although a wide ranging, multi-faceted genre, more than incorporates the comic book, superhero category. Pop culture icons such as Superman, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Deadpool and many more play as basically sci-fi powered tales.
Kal-El, a Kryptonian orphan, comes to Earth to escape a dying world. He’s alien. His genetic structure endows him with unearthly abilities. Green Lantern’s a cosmic cop – given a device by aliens to uphold law and explore space. Silver Surfer, tragic herald of super being Galactus, is an alien imprisoned on Earth, after he defends us from his insatiable, planet gulping master. Deadpool – one of the newest pop culture kids on the block – shines as a popular sci-fi hero. DP’s DNA is nearly indestructible, his sarcastic humor just as enduring and endearing.
Sci-Fi Can’t Be Contained, But Comic Books Do It Great
Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, The Bionic Woman, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Predator, The Matrix, Stargate, Alien, Watchmen, The Walking Dead, etc. Science fiction properties go seamlessly back and forth between films, TV shows, comic books, video games and web eps. There’s a blurring of lines on what’s what – is it a Netflix streaming show, an Amazon offering, a soon to be feature film, after it’s had a few dozen comic issues, alongside a few webisode installments.
Glass, director M. Night Shyamalan’s third installment to his super hero series, currently scores huge at the box office. Shyamalan’s previous films, Unbreakable and Split, set the stage for his super hero opus, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
Sci-fi powers our imagination, and one of the best ways to explore such mind expanding awesomeness is utilizing comic book flexibility. It’s something comic creators intrinsically understand. It’s why Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s why Stan Lee crafted comics. And in doing so, like Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits, Lee brought the sci-fi genre into a mainstream audience awareness.
Stan Lee, in creating The Hulk, took a basic literary framework of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, updating a chemical potion to radiation Gamma Rays. He turned Hyde from an evil, beastial madman, into a raging, terminal temper tantrum – morphing him into a tortured, sympathetic figure. Likewise, literary figures such as Frankenstein and Dracula, are so explored in comic books and wonderfully re-imagined, it’s arguable their exploits number more in pulp fiction now than anywhere else.
Grandpa Bill Needs A Real Sci-Fi Education
Bill Maher needs to visit Barnes & Noble to flip through a few graphic novels. He should realize just because a thing sustains interest though the formative years from childhood into adulthood doesn’t make it childish or meaningless.
Rock N Roll, fairy tales, comic books, sci-fi, super heroes, nursery rhymes, Little League, Pee-Wee Football – these things are introduced to us in youth, but keeping them, expanding or even reinterpreting or creating them as adults is meaningful to the ever faithful.
Science fiction is important to me. I discovered Star Trek as a child. Later, I fully embraced it in my teens. While in college, I started my professional Hollywood screenwriting career by writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Gee, glad I didn’t listen to Grandpa Bill back then.
Grandpa Bill Maher, please help guide me. Must I stop listening to Prince, Journey, Van Halen, Culture Club, Tom Petty or Madonna as an adult, because I discovered them as a kid? Think I need to toss my J.R.R. Tolkien books and movies as an adult? Bill Maher is a self admitted stoner. He’s been smoking pot for years. I imagine he started lighting up as a kid, a teen. He’s an adult now – nearly a senior citizen. Maybe Grandpa Bill should take hold of his big bag of weed and put away his childish things.