Mourning Celebrities and the Passing of Stan Lee

Whenever a celebrity dies, you tend to see similar trends in the way people post online. First, the memorial posts come from all the fans, alongside the breaking news stories. Then you have some more in-depth tributes (like this one), as well as some people who very loudly “don’t care.” Finally, the internet sort of moves forward collectively, but some people still have the tendency to put in their two cents about why celebrities shouldn’t get the spotlight when they pass away. They say things like, “You didn’t know him,” or “What about our service men and women who die all the time? Why not pay that sort of attention to them?”

The answer to these questions aren’t easy. Like with any death, there really isn’t a completely satisfying answer at all. Our fallen service members should absolutely get more recognition for their sacrifice. However, pretending like there is a limited amount of bandwidth on the internet, and celebrity deaths are taking up all the slots is ridiculous and petty. Celebrities, though most of us didn’t know them ourselves, have often affected many of our lives in positive ways. I could go on about the contributions Robin Williams gave my childhood; I remember watching Anton Yelchin and looking forward to seeing his name in upcoming movies. Many of my friends loved watching Anthony Bourdain profoundly explore culture through a medium they found entertaining and engaging. Of course those deaths that were suicides were also particularly rough for those who saw them as inspiring figures who they sought to strive toward.

Did they know and love those people on a personal level? No. Did they connect with them and feel sorrow at their passing? Absolutely, why not?

Still, this is likely to happen upon the passing of the great Stan Lee, where people on the internet will tell you who you ought to be sad about.

But rather than sit around complain about why people on the internet can be pretentious (surprise, right?), I think I ought to focus on a few things Stan Lee did that I hope we can all appreciate. While the list is extremely long, I’d like to pay respect to just a few of the big bullet points.

Of course, Mr. Lee was the beloved creator of Marvel comics many grew up loving, and many more came to love as the franchise reached the silver screen. At Marvel, he created some of the most memorable characters in today’s fiction — Spider-Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, Black Panther, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Ant-Man, Thor, and Iron Man, just to name a few. He was Marvel’s EIC, publisher, and eventually chairman, credited with much of the company’s wild success.

He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army; joining in 1942 and serving through 1945. Yes, the man with a big smile on his face doing some goofy cameo in every Marvel movie was an Army veteran of WWII. He served honorably in the Signal Corps before moving over to what was known as a “playwright” where he worked on various writing projects, to include comics and cartoons, as well as manuals and training videos.

Stan Lee during his service in WWII | DoD

His contributions to American culture have been substantial. Superheroes in the Marvel universe come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; some are antiheroes and some are ethical backbones to society. You don’t have to agree with every single ethical choice made by a character, or the author, to appreciate what the idea of a superhero is. The fact that these characters risk everything and push against evil even when their powers are completely stripped from them — it’s inspiring. He gave children a shining example to look toward who is modern, exciting, engaging, and fun; and gave adults like myself the same. He helped spread ideas like courage, doing the right thing when all your chips are down, family, honesty… and a plethora of other virtues.

For these things, I thank Mr. Lee. I thank him for his service to our country during WWII, I thank him for bringing the purity and honesty of superheroes to our culture as well as he did. I wish his family nothing but love, as they haven’t lost a cultural icon, but a family member. As for us — Stan Lee’s memory is imprinted into our culture, as are his stories and the wonderful ideas they spread.

At 95, he is reunited in some mysterious place with his late wife. May he rest in peace.


Non DoD images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Annica Jakobsson
Annica Jakobsson
2 years ago

It’s really not that strange, even if we don’t know the celebrities they do mean something to us and have/had an impact on our lives. Stan Lee have made such an impact on so many people for so long, he will be missed and remembered by a lot of people (me included) who never knew him.

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