Reading the Daily Mail you often get the feeling that you’ve seen a certain story before, often at least once. Today was no different when I came across a story about Dennis the Menace being made less menacing thanks to the ‘PC brigade’: ‘That new Dennis is a softy‘ (link is to online article, title has been copied from print edition – don’t worry, I didn’t buy it). Not surprisingly, it was a story that had been run before (in 2008 and 2009), albeit with the slightest new angle: the changes are happening to the print edition and an 8-year-old by called Jacob Rush has complained about that. Hold the front pages, 8-year-old boy writes letter of complaint about a comic strip book.
Naturally the Daily Mail jump at the chance to rehash old ‘news’ as space filler and Andy Dolan takes it upon himself to try to take the whole thing seriously. His main point seems to be that PC just isn’t fun. Dennis ‘doesn’t have his catapult or water pistol anymore and he’s not menacing enough’ whines Jacob, before the article states that he still retains his catapult and a peashooter, he just doesn’t fire them at people anymore. Surely, as far as the fearful Mail reader is concerned, the improvement of Dennis’ behaviour is a positive thing, seeing how he must be a role model for and influence on our nation’s feral youth?
Not so. The Daily Mail seem to think that it is absolutely fine for children to ‘live out their naughtiness through him’, yet most TV and other youth cultures will turn your child into a crack-addicted killing machine. Perhaps it is because Dennis first appeared in 1951 and the rose-tinted spectacles worn by Mail readers and writers look at him with a certain fondness, because he was a proper scamp. He isn’t like these modern feral chavs who look at you funny on street corners and smoke, no, Dennis was a loveable rogue who would simply clobber you with a catapult after spending the day at school bullying people – which never did no one any harm in the ’50s either and wasn’t even an issue in schools you know. If you told a teacher in the ’50s you were being bullied they would have given you a swift caning and sent you home without any lunch. Things were hard then, but good you see, so much better than the ‘PC softness’ that has infected our children.
I wonder how many deliquent youths could get away with the Daily Mail describing them as ‘a loveable tearaway’, I’m guessing Dennis is probably unique unless Paul Dacre has spawned some devil-children.