Twitter destroys Bill Maher for belittling Stan Lee and comic books

Bill Maher
Bill Maher

Image: Roger Askew/REX/Shutterstock

2017%2f12%2f04%2f7d%2fmarkpic.c6031By Mark Kaufman

Commentator Bill Maher disparaged Stan Lee, the seminal creator of iconic comic book superheroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The Fantastic Four, in an unsolicited 293-word Saturday morning blog titled “Adulting.”

Twitter was quick to rebut Maher’s cultural musings after he mocked the late Lee’s widely-appreciated work, belittled millions of people who value comics, and broadly labeled comics as “stupid stuff.”

“I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider,” Maher wrote, before adding, “The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff.” 

Distilling decades of comic book history, culture, and meaning down to a short, oversimplified opinion is naturally going provoke the ire of the public, especially those who possess a greater familiarity of both comics and Lee’s intellectual influence. 

As Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg wrote following the comic legend’s Nov. 12 death: “Lee, and through him Marvel, recognized that superheroes were still fundamentally human, capable of all the same flaws and fears as anyone else. It’s a mindset that led to more human stories, but also one that unavoidably flirted with the political climate as well.”

Sophisticated literature can come in many forms, and if you write off an entire industry because you’re too stupid to see that? Well. I feel sorry for you.

Also, Bill Maher’s show isn’t exactly sophisticated television compared to a Breaking Bad or a Sopranos.

🍗 .ashley. 🍁 (@AshleyEsqueda) November 17, 2018

I also notice that people who shit on comics as irrelevant don’t usually read them or haven’t since they were kids many decades ago. Kind of like hating opera, even though you can’t name a single one you’ve ever seen or listened to.

— Darick Robertson (@DarickR) November 17, 2018

Bill Maher dismissed an entire storytelling medium?

Wow. He’s so highbrow.

His brow is so high, there’s probably less room for a mind.

— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylorMade) November 17, 2018

I never speak on topics I know little or nothing about. Why? I never want to be the fool. In other words, I don’t wanna make a Bill Maher out of myself. 🤘🏻✏🤘🏻

— Greg Capullo (@GregCapullo) November 17, 2018

It’s crazy to me that Bill Maher is using Stan Lee’s death to insult the maturity of comic book fans. It’s crazily out of character for him to try to assert his intellectual superiority over the ignorant masses in a shrill, strident, obnoxious and attention-seeking way.

— Nathan Rabin (@nathanrabin) November 17, 2018

SEE ALSO: ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ makes a major Harry Potter canon blunder

As New York Times reporters Jonathan Kandell and Andy Webster noted, “Under Mr. Lee, Marvel transformed the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.”

Maher, forever a firestarter, probably wrote what he wrote to provoke a response. That doesn’t make the drags aimed at him any less entertaining, though.

Maher’s just trolling, and lots of people are rising to the troll. (Julie Burchill did it better 30 years ago with her “There aren’t any adult comics because adults don’t read comics” line. ) More people cared about Stan Lee’s death than care about Bill Maher alive.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 17, 2018

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One dead, over 100 injured in French protests over fuel prices

Tens of thousands of people across France have protested against high fuel prices, in mass rallies that turned violent when clashes erupted in parts of the country and a protester was accidentally run over and killed by a car.

An estimated 240,000 people gathered on Saturday at 2,000 locations, blocking roundabouts and motorway exits as part of what has been dubbed the “yellow vests” protest.

The movement, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by protesters, erupted on social media last month with calls for mass blockades of roads and highways.

Protesters blame a 20 percent rise in diesel prices in the last year on the so-called “green taxes” under President Emmanuel Macron.

At Pont-de-Beauvoisin, in southeast France, a woman trying to get her daughter to the doctor panicked when protesters surrounded her car and started banging on the roof. She accidentally struck and killed a woman in her 60s, the interior ministry said.

In Paris, protesters holding “Macron resign!” signs and singing the national anthem partially blocked the Champs Elysees in the heart of the French capital.

A group of protesters blocking a motorway in Antibes [Eric Gaillard/Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker, reporting from Paris, said violent clashes broke out between the police and protesters, during which the security forces used tear gas.

At least 47 people were injured during the clashes, three of them seriously, police said.

Injuries were also reported in other areas as some drivers confronted protesters or tried to force their way through the blockades.

Across the country, 106 people were injured overall, and 52 were arrested, according to the interior minister.

Among those injured was a police officer in the southern town of Grasse.

“The protesters were united in two things: the first was the symbol of their protest, the yellow vest they were wearing, and the second was that they were angry and frustrated at the president in the hike of petrol and diesel,” Barker said.

He added that the protesters are demanding that big businesses and industries should be the ones to bear the burden of the green taxes imposed by the government, and not ordinary drivers.

Waning popularity

Anger over the high fuel prices has resulted in Macron’s popularity taking a hit over the recent months – from 39 percent in July to 21 percent in October.

According to an opinion poll last week, 73 percent of respondents backed the “yellow vests” movement, a much higher figure than in other protests since Macron was elected on a reformist platform last year.

Protesters say he is neglecting the lower and middle classes, pointing to tax cuts he has pushed through for high earners and companies.

Last week, the French government announced a series of measures to try and quell the anger over fuel prices, including energy subsidies and higher bonuses towards cleaner vehicles.

In a TV interview this week, Macron admitted he had “not succeeded in reconciling the French with their leaders” and that “we have probably not given them enough consideration”.

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Trump in California to view fire devastation he blamed on forest mismanagement


Wildfire evacuees expressed mixed feelings about President Donald Trump’s planned visit to Northern California where a massive wildfire has killed at least 63 people and destroyed nearly 10,000 homes. (Nov. 16)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — After doubling down on his link between forest management and wildfires, President Donald Trump arrived in Northern California on Saturday for a first-hand view of the still-raging Camp Fire, the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century that has left at least 71 people dead.

Under a sun largely blocked by a smoky haze, Trump touched down on Saturday afternoon at Beale Air Force Base, about 36 miles south of the devastating Camp Fire that has destroyed 148,000 structures and remains only 55 percent contained. Fire officials do not expect to bring the blaze under control until Nov. 30.

He was met by Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, who joined him aboard Marine One to travel to the hardest-hit area. They said earlier they welcomed the visit, saying it’s time “to pull together for the people of California.”

Trump also was expected to stop in Southern California, where a gunman killed a dozen people at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7 before committing suicide.

Last week, the president blamed state mismanagement of forest land and water resources for the wildfires and threatened to cut off federal funds to the area.

He returned to the topic Saturday before leaving for California.

“We will be talking about forest management, I’ve been saying that for a long time,” he told reporters Saturday before leaving Washington. “

“It should have been done many years ago, but I think everybody’s on the right side. It’s a big issue. It’s a big issue. A very expensive issue, but very, very inexpensive when you compare it to even one of these horrible fires,” Trump said

The White House also said Trump would be meeting with individuals “impacted by the wildfires.”

In more recent days, Trump had tempered the blame-game over the fires, offering prayers for the victims, praise for firefighters and emergency personnel and pledges of federal help.

“We will do everything in our power to support and protect our fellow citizens in harm’s way,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday. “And we say, I think as a group – I can tell you as a group: God bless everybody. That’s a very tough situation.”

Major disaster and emergency declarations signed by Trump will cover up to 75 percent of the state’s costs for removing debris, providing transitional housing and more, according to the White House.

A public health emergency declared by the Department of Health and Human Services will let Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and their health-care providers meet their immediate health needs, officials said.

Thank you @JerryBrownGov. Look forward to joining you and @GavinNewsom tomorrow in California. We are with you!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018

In an interview taped Friday and scheduled for broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”

 Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said: “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”


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California Professional Firefighters President Brian K. Rice, who has called the president’s tweet “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning” to victims and firefighters, said Trump’s visit with the victims is welcome.

Butte County, which voted for Trump by 4 points over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, has been ground zero for the devastating fire. 

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018

The Camp Fire swept through the county, destroying the retirement town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow. It destroyed more than 9,800 homes and at its height drove out 52,000 people.

Authorities say they are still trying to locate 1,011 people unaccounted for after the fire swept through the area. Officials emphasize that not all the people listed are believed missing and may simply have not checked amid the chaos.

Contributing: Mike Chapman, Jim Schultz and Michele Chandler, Redding Record Searchlight

More: Eight more bodies bring California wildfire death toll to 71, with 1,000+ people missing

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The Crimes of Grindelwald’ has a major Harry Potter canon blunder

Image: REX/Shutterstock

2017%2f12%2f04%2f7d%2fmarkpic.c6031By Mark Kaufman

Critics everywhere have slammed the latest Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, as there’s an absurd amount of confounding plot crammed into the 134-minute film. 

Yet, the film carries a problematic canonical oversight, too: Minerva McGonagall briefly appears as a young-adult wizarding instructor at Hogwarts in 1927. The trouble is, according to Harry Potter lore, she wouldn’t have even been born at that point.

Fantastic Beasts 2 takes place in 1927 and features a 20-something Minerva McGonagall teaching at Hogwarts. BUT according to Pottermore, Professor McGonagall was born on October 4, 1935 making her a -8 year old Professor. Impressive.

— Rohita (@rohitak) November 17, 2018

(Pottermore, for those who might not know, is the online portal for all things Harry Potter and Wizarding World. It features original writing from creator J.K. Rowling that is recognized as official canon.)

As Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling reveals in the original series, the famously strict Professor McGonagall first started teaching at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1956, when she was a spry 21 years old. 

mcgonagall in 1995: I’ve been working at Hogwarts for 39 years

me: ok so she started in 1956 –

jkr: WRONG AGAIN FOOLISH MUGGLE, she’s teaching at Hogwarts in 1927!

✍ (@neonacropolis) November 17, 2018

On Twitter, some have argued that this “Minerva McGonagall” may have actually been Professor McGonagall’s witch mother. But this is almost certainly wrong. Mashable reviewed the original screenplay, which explicitly cites a “Minerva McGonagall” in the film. Minerva’s mother was named “Isobel Ross,” and later “Isobel McGonagall” after marrying the muggle Robert McGonagall.

SEE ALSO: What the shocking end reveal during ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ means for the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise

Isobel, notably, was also never a professor at Hogwarts. Fans have been pointing all of this out for days, since the first details about Grindelwald started making their way online. Some see McGonagall’s appearance as an error. Others think it’s part of the plan, and there’s more to be revealed.

“How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts?” Professor Umbridge asked.

“Thirty-nine years this December,” said Professor McGonagall brusquely, snapping her bag shut.@jk_rowling : Order of the Phoenix Chapter 15: “The Hogwarts High Inquisitor”

— Sʜɪᴘᴘɪɴɢ ᴅʀᴀɢᴏɴs (@ShippingDragons) November 14, 2018

Rowling, who is credited for writing the Fantastic Beasts sequel script, couldn’t slip this mistake past vigilant Potter fans. Perhaps such lapses won’t occur in next installment of Fantastic Beasts, which this film largely existed to set up

Rowling, who is very active on social media, hasn’t yet weighed in on the issue of Professor McGonagall’s age in The Crimes of Grindelwald.

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Prague rallies against embattled Czech PM

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Protesters carry a banner reading “Resignation”, as thousands march on Prague’s Charles Bridge

Protesters in Prague are holding a rally against embattled Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a day after he vowed he would “never resign”.

The protest comes on the 29th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the peaceful overthrow of communism in former Czechoslovakia.

Mr Babis is facing allegations that he defrauded the EU, which he denies.

He also denies having his son, Andrej Babis Jr, kidnapped and held in Crimea to stop him testifying in the case.

The son made the allegations to reporters from the Seznam news site, insisting he was taken against his will.

The 35-year-old’s disappearance coincided with a police investigation into his billionaire father, who was accused of hiding the fact he owned a farm and conference centre known as “Stork Nest”, so it would qualify for EU small business subsidies.

According to Seznam, Mr Babis Jr said his father wanted him far away from the criminal inquiry, and had given him a choice between “taking an extended holiday” in Crimea – or being locked up in a mental home.

Prime Minister Babis has said his son is schizophrenic, and condemned a “witch-hunt” against his family.

“No-one kidnapped my son. He travelled from the Czech Republic voluntarily. This matter has been investigated by the police, which came to the conclusion that no kidnapping had taken place,” he said.

The interview with Mr Babis Jr was secretly filmed by journalists using a camera hidden in a pair of glasses – which the Czech leader called highly unethical.

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Andrej Babis now faces a no confidence vote against his government

Saturday’s protests follow earlier demonstrations on Thursday, when thousands gathered in Prague’s Wenceslas Square chanting “shame!” and “resignation!”

A day later, protesters at Prague’s National Monument discarded wreaths laid by Mr Babis and President Milos Zeman in honour of the Velvet Revolution.

Czech opposition parties have sought a no-confidence vote against Mr Babis’s government, which is expected to be held on 23 November.

Should he lose, the president will appoint a new prime minister.

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Cookie ethics: Congresswoman-elect asks if she’s still allowed to sell Girl Scout cookies


Congresswoman-elect Abigail Spanberger is one of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop leaders. As she prepares for her new job representing Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, she wonders if she has a conflict of interest.

WASHINGTON – Now that she’s a Congresswoman-elect, Abigail Spanberger is in a Trefoil over Girl Scout cookie season.

She’s one of her daughter’s troop leaders, and as she prepares for her new job representing Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, she wonders if she has a conflict of interest.

“Can I go in the neighborhood and sell Girl Scout cookies or are people going to feel compelled because I’m now their representative in Congress? Do you know what I mean?” she asked.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Given the sex and financial scandals of Congress, it seems kind of sweet that a member-elect is fretting over the ethics of selling Thin Mints. But it may be the type of issue that’s bound to arise when a record number of women have been elected to Congress.

Cookie case law from the House Ethics Committee may be wanting. They’ve never publicly addressed the sale of Girl Scout cookies.

More: ‘Awakening’: Abigail Spanberger’s House win illustrates the shift of US politics in ‘year of the badass woman’

More: Midterm results 2018: How Trump’s 2016 election set the stage for the female wave

But if Spanberger needs advice, others have walked this path. Sixty percent of women who will serve next Congress are Girl Scout alums. And Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., balanced her job in Congress with being a troop co-leader from 2006 to 2012.

“I still have the bins and bins of crafts that I collected so that we could always have something ready to go when our meeting came up,” Wasserman Schultz said, laughing.

Spanberger, a Democrat, said it wasn’t a problem in her previous government work to just let colleagues know her daughter was selling them. She is a former U.S. Postal Inspection Service law enforcement officer and undercover Central Intelligence Agency operative, which makes it even more amusing when she jokes: “If we’re doing booth sales, do I just put a baseball cap on and hope nobody recognizes me?”

No, serving in Congress won’t require her to go undercover – again.

Wasserman Schultz certainly didn’t have to go incognito when her daughters’ troop sold cookies at the Publix or when the girls knocked on doors in the neighborhood. She was right behind them, pulling the wagon of cookies, she said.

Most of her sales were at home, although colleagues and staff would approach her for their cookie fix once word got out that she was a troop leader.

“I certainly didn’t send out any solicitation – there was nothing like that – because that wouldn’t be ethical,” she said.

Congressional Management Foundation President Bradford Fitch said, like any boss, members of Congress would need to be careful about selling cookies to their staff, but he didn’t see any ethical violations with them helping their daughters sell to constituents. They just can’t use their post to pressure people to buy cookies.

“(Spanberger) doesn’t relinquish her responsibilities as a mom because she’s a member of Congress,” said Fitch, whose organization advises new members and is involved in their orientation this week in Washington D.C. “It’s probably a great way to connect with constituents.”

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Netflex tweeted an answer to the question on every ‘Dogs’ fan’s mind

Dogs is the smartest six-hour Netflix binge anyone can commit to. It’s also, notably, a safe watch for all dog-lovers.

If you, like anyone who has ever owned and/or loved a dog, saw the Dogs announcement and immediately wondered if any of the documentary’s sweet good boys and girls die, Netflix has an answer for you. No. No one dies.

Netflix confirmed the happy detail on Twitter.

Our six-part dog-umentary is now streaming — and since so many of you asked, I felt it was important to tell you this: NO DOGS DIE IN ANY EPISODE OF DOGS

— Netflix US (@netflix) November 16, 2018

SEE ALSO: Netflix’s ‘Dogs’ is so much more than another funny pet video

“NO DOGS DIE IN ANY EPISODE OF DOGS,” the tweet reads, in all-caps.

The six episodes focus on individual stories that explore the impacts that canines can have on human lives. It’s an exploration of the bonds between the two species, and the tremendous impact that such bonds can have.

As Mashable’s Ali Foreman wrote in our review: “Dogs consistently details how we can help man’s best friend, but it shines when displaying how man’s best friend can help us. As scene-after-scene leaves you beaming with joy, you’ll almost definitely start itching to [adopt a pup of your own].”

All six episodes of Dogs came to Netflix on Nov. 16. You can watch them now right here.

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