Stan Lee’s Twitter account has raised a few fan eyebrows recently, leaving some to wonder if he is actually behind his own tweets. As of mid-May 2018, Lee's Twitter account claims to be posting missives from the man himself - but the issue is still somewhat complex.
Stan Lee is an undisputed legend in the comic book and general geek world, and thanks to the overwhelming success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’s never been more popular or more publicly visible. However, as beloved as he remains, fans and journalists alike have begun to find it difficult to ignore various warning signs about his wellbeing.
This week Lee's Twitter account, which has over 3.16m followers, sent out a scathing attack on "fake news outlets". The tweet, in support of Elon Musk's recent barrage of criticisms against the media, specifically called out The Hollywood Reporter. The long-time trade publication released a piece in April alleging that Lee was suffering from elder abuse at the hands of various hangers-on and suspicious lawyers. Lee later denied these claims.
I agree with @elonmusk that the media should be held accountable to tell the truth. Many reporters are honost but Fake news outlets like Hollywood Reporter should not be spreading lies. Go Elon!— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) May 27, 2018
The "fake news" tweet stung for many fans and had the air of a J. Jonah Jameson rant around it. As with most social media scandals involving celebrities, the issue has opened up to one of authenticity and endorsement: Does Stan Lee actually run his own Twitter page and, if not, does he endorse what is being said under his name?
This isn't the first time fans have had concerns over his social media and who's really running them. On May 13, Lee tweeted that this was the first time he'd ever used the site himself, and that he had no control over his Facebook page.
Today was the first day I ever did a tweet myself. Before today, my account was done by others. I still do not have control of my Facebook. Someone else is doing it, NOT me.— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) May 13, 2018
Later that month, he tweeted that his Facebook and Instagram pages had been hijacked by a "fraud", then asked Mark Zuckerberg for help.
Help! Someone has hijacked my Facebook and Instagram. I want everyone to know whoever is writing them is a fraud and is impersonating me. How do I get them back? Can you guys help?— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) May 15, 2018
In a video, posted May 16, he said, "I don't know how much I've been missing, now that I've seen them", after thanking fans for their kind messages - the implication being that he'd never used the site before.
Thank you twitter. I finally learned how to post a video thanks to you guys. pic.twitter.com/SiSqnNakd9— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) May 16, 2018
Social media management is a relatively new field, but one that’s growing at an exponential rate. What was once a frivolous time waster is now an expected part of business, publicity and branding. For celebrities, social media can be a blessing and a curse: It can be a way to bypass traditional media outlets and keep control of your message, but it can also quickly spiral out of control if you say something out of turn that goes viral. Having the ability to directly communicate with your fans and encourage them to see your next movie is great. That can help with strengthening your personal image, and Lee’s public image is one of everyone’s favorite grandfather, the old-school nerd who always encourages you to be your best. Lee's account claims to be under the man's own control, but does that mean he actually sends his own tweets? That issue is debatable.
Stan Lee is 95 years old. His wife of 69 years passed away in 2017, and he himself has said that he is "almost blind" due to macular degeneration, which indicates that he may be dictating tweets to someone else. Even though Lee has denied the claims of elder abuse, knowing those allegations are out in the public conscious cannot help but color the way we view this beloved icon and those very odd tweets. The Hollywood Reporter piece alleges severe mishandling and manipulation of his financial affairs while the Daily Beast alleges that Lee briefly surrendered power of attorney over to one of his shady lawyers - a move that has since been reversed. According to the Hollywood Reporter piece, one figure named Keya Morgan is alleged to be monitoring and composing Lee's e-mails, and Morgan also recorded video messages of Lee denying the claims of elder abuse. It seems likely that Morgan is also now helping to run Lee's Twitter account, and recording videos like the one above.
At best, the tweets from his account, his most prominent outlet to the rest of the world that is ostensibly in his name, are kooky and rather strange. At worst, they’re something far more insidious, another sign of degeneration and manipulation orchestrated by shady figures taking advantage of an old widower. Even if he is directly dictating his tweets to someone else, there's no guarantee they're tweeting to message or that he knows what is being said. A major feature of The Hollywood Reporter's account of elder abuse was a lengthy document signed by Lee, which he later claimed to have been tricked into signing. Sadly, he is at an age now where his dependence on help in his day-to-day life leaves him vulnerable to manipulation, so fans may want to avoid reading his social media posts as gospel.