I’ve been watching in a kind of weird amusement as people have been yelling at Bill Maher for being a total asshole yet again, this time about comic books. And this is not to denigrate people who are pushing back. I’m in definite agreement that comic books are a valid literary form, and it actually is important when assholes have opened their ignorant shit-spewing orifices that some people take time out of their busy day to say, “Um, no.” Because it can be important to not allow a false sense of agreement to be created via silence.
That said, man it is never a surprise when Bill Maher is an asshole (for a tour of his greatest hits, just Google his name plus islamaphobia, misogyny, or antivaccine), and at this point I’m kind of wondering who the hell is listening to him any more that isn’t a Bill Maher Guy. Which is to say, That Guy Who Thinks Quoting Bill Maher Is Somehow A Valid Move In An Argument.
I’m not sure if the Bill Maher Guy is a well-known and recognized subtype of douche at this point. I’m mostly familiar with the him because the Bill Maher Guy was ubiquitous to gatherings of skeptics and atheists back when that was my thing.
And it’d go something like this:
Bill Maher Guy: *says something sexually creepy*
Me: I’m not comfortable with that.
Bill Maher Guy: You’ve just been trained by our horrible puritanical society to be an immature baby about sex. If you were enlightened and free like me, you wouldn’t have these stupid ideas.
Me: I don’t have a problem with sex, I have a problem with you disrespecting my comfort level.
Bill Maher Guy: *quotes Bill Maher*
Me: Oh hey look there’s a person over there I need to talk to, bye.
Like every. Fucking. Time. I wanted nothing to do with Bill Maher long before he had his own HBO show because he apparently loved saying shit that gave creepy assholes philosophical cover for acting like someone having boundaries means they’ve been societally brainwashed to not have a super sexy hot tub threesome with you and not because, I don’t know, they just don’t want to fuck you or your friend.
Let me tell you how super fun it is to have someone that’s been staring at your tits for the last twenty minutes try to gaslight you with the idea that it’s not that you find them creepy, it’s just that you lack intellectual rigor and haven’t really examined the horrors that living in a Christian-dominated society have pressed upon your psyche. That your “no” is just a symptom of your incapacity to think deeply about your own sexuality, which they obviously understand so much better than you after a conversation with your breasts, and therefore not a valid expression of control over your own body and intellectual space. Oh, and have a mocking quote from Bill Maher to really press home the idea that you’re an immature, sad little person who must just giggle at the idea of pee-pee parts for not wanting to indiscriminately suck dick.
There are a lot of reasons I dropped out of organized skepticism, mostly involving time and money. But the way the Bill Maher Guys kept multiplying in those spaces made it really fucking easy to reprioritize my resources to other venues. (Related: I really recommend Alexandra Erin’s Twitter thread.)
From what I’ve seen, Bill Maher’s brand has always been about creating pseudo-intellectual cover for people who desperately want to believe they’re the smartest person in the room and think the best way to prove it is by denigrating others. His vision of what it means to be an adult in society, watermarked with ‘empathy is for losers‘, is as damaging in its own way as his position on vaccines. And if you’re trying to battle it out with Bill Maher Guys about comic books, good luck and god speed since in my experience they aren’t even interested in understanding the simple sentence that is: ‘No.’