Bill Maher about Growing Up

Bill Maher, host of the HBO talk show “Real Time with Bill Maher” wrote a controversial blog post shortly after Marvel’s icon Stan Lee had passed away. This led to a huge (social) media backlash – and now he has finally commented on all that ruckus in his very own (Pay) TV show. … Please watch the video, but be sure to read my thoughts on this afterwards as well. (Sorry, no German version of this post.)

All that is certainly wildly exaggerated – to give credit where credit is due: That’s Bill’s job, and we wouldn’t want him any other way, would we?

But to be frank: Bill’s got a point. For starters, let me put it like this: I do enjoy my MCU movies, and I think that all those Marvel movies are pretty great so everybody should watch them. However, I actually don’t think that all those Marvel movies are that good so that everybody needs to watch them. Movies like “Ghandi” or “Schindler’s List” fall into that category, while “Black Panther” or “Infinity War” … well … they really do not.

This is the time in which everybody is doing superhero movies. There was a time when everybody did zombie movies. Then there was a time when everybody did space travel science-fiction movies. And there was a time when everybody did “Cowboys and Indians” western movies. Everybody doing Superhero movies (mostly superhero comic book adaptations) is a phase like any other phase before – one that I personally enjoy very much. However, it will pass eventually. All these phases are bound to pass sooner or later. Marvel is milking this cash cow with their MCU, which is their job, so why not let them do it? As in all  the past “everybody is doing it” movie genre phases, many (if not most) of the movies from their respective phase were very much enjoyable during their time. But if you take a hard look at them, they  mostly weren’t really works of cinematic art, and hardly anybody is talking about most of them anymore these days.

Back to comics as such: Granted, there’s certainly a huge difference between an amusing three frame comic strip in the daily newspaper and an elaborately produced graphic novel for a mature audience; the same is true for their respective movie adaptions. It is debatable where to put Marvel’s comic books and their respective MCU movie adaptations, and I’m very much inclined to evasively say “probably somewhere in the middle”. But even if you’d go so far to place them in the “highly sophisticated graphic novel” category (into which, in many cases, they really do not belong), they’d still be no match to true world literature. You know, that one nobody ever has told to be childish.

To further emphasize my position: I feel joyfully childish enough to appreciate my MCU comic book movie adaptions, even with a bucket or popcorn in my lap. I also, yet reluctantly admit to own one or another “collectible action figure” (in my case in the form of Funk Pop! Vinyls). But the difference is: While I am indeed delighted to own them, sometimes even taking one of them off the shelf and enjoy looking at their details from up close, the important difference is: I don’t play with them. I own dolls, but I don’t play with dolls.

And yes, it‘s true, I tend to post stupid, sometimes childish stuff on social media quite a lot. But I’ve grown mature enough to know that I indeed swallowed the red pill and that I thus live in the real world now. In other words: You most certainly won’t see any Instagram posts from me bearing the hashtag „#adulting“.

Bottom line is: My position towards all this is slightly more moderate than Bill Maher’s. I do encourage childishness – it’s one of the stranger spices that enriches our adult lives. As I just recently learned to understand: It‘s better to be too old for some shit than being too shitty for some age. But I am absolutely 100% in line will Bill when he says that that comic books and comic book movie adaptions, while being highly enjoyable, usually are neither high literature nor high cinematic art. It is definitely OK for adult people to continue enjoying them; but at the same time they should not lose their perspective on what’s really important in both art and real life.

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