I don’t like Bill Maher. I do, however, occasionally have respect for the man when he takes a stand against the lunacy of his own side. But, this time, it has nothing to do with politics – nothing to do with left-wing or right-wing. This is straight up about coddle culture.
Maher is catching heat right now because he supposedly insulted comics legend Stan Lee after his death by attacking his legacy in a blog post titled Adulting.
“Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.” – Bill Maher
While Maher is dismissive of Lee’s legacy and the impact of his work he wrote that line for a reason. Maher’s post was not an attack on Stan Lee – more, it was more of a critique of America’s reaction to his death.
When Lee passed, everyone was coming out to remember how great of a man he was. Every media outlet, every celebrity, even the pathetic freak show of Marvel comic creators. Stan Lee was a great man. He was far greater than Maher made him out to be. Stan Lee deserved every ounce of praise he received. But Maher’s point referred to the level of respect we have come to give the people behind our favorite pieces of fiction.
Hollywood celebrities, authors and the like have always been treated like superstars, but I don’t think this is what Maher is addressing. He’s referring to how adults have decided to keep a stranglehold on their childhoods.
“But then twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff.” – Bill Maher
When Maher saw that the world treated Stan Lee’s death with the same reverence as a national hero or a great leader, that’s when he decided something was terribly wrong.
Coddle culture has made shame and shaming completely taboo (unless you vote conservative, of course). It’s no longer acceptable to shame someone who obsesses over a television show or a movie franchise. Of course, everyone has their obsessions – but it used to be something society made you keep in check. You could have your fun, but you also had to go out and build a life.
I think the phenomena was born out of soy – from people like Wil Wheaton who championed this new Big Bang Theory culture, and sites like Geek&Sundry that made nerd stuff acceptable in the mainstream. And suddenly there were no more boundaries. People could unleash their obsessions and receive encouragement.
But there was a reason society once shamed you for obsessing too much. It kept you grounded. Sure, you could have your fun, but most people wouldn’t let their obsession run their lives. Now you have people turning these obsessions into careers – and this is something Maher also alludes to:
“…some dumb people got to be professors by writing theses with titles like Otherness and Heterodoxy in the Silver Surfer.” – Bill Maher
While having your fantasy life is perfectly healthy, just like Maher pointed out, one has to admit that we’ve allowed our obsessions to mix with our normal lives to a somewhat dangerous extent.
The title of the post “Adulting” is an allusion to modern adults labeling normal everyday actions as “adulting” as if they spend all day being children and living in a fantasy world while occasionally contending with normal day to day life.
“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.” – Bill Maher
It’s no wonder why we see so many people devolve into blubbering man-children or psychotic fan-girls. Shame is not a bad thing. It helps keep you in line. Just like pain tells you not to touch an open flame – shame is telling you what you shouldn’t do if you want to be an acceptable member of society. Coddle culture says you can do whatever you want and be whatever you want without dumping on you the “burden” of knowing that a lot of hard work is involved. Your dreams are not going to be served to you on a silver platter. The government isn’t going to put you in a safe bubble and hand you everything you’ve ever wanted.
So was Maher right about Stan Lee just being a guy who got people to watch movies? Absolutely not. Stan Lee was a hero beyond the realm of comics. He helped change things for the better and in a big way. He’s done more for the betterment of America than Bill Maher will ever hope to achieve. But when it came to the point, the subject, of his blog post – I think Maher was spot on.