Thursday, August 13, 2009

The BBC's Deracination Of Dennis The Menace Is Not Political Correctness Gone Rife. It Is Much Worse Than That

It was with some alarm that I read the news that DC Thomson’s imp of the perverse, Dennis the Menace, is to be “toned down” in order to suit the requirements of the BBC’s children’s channel, CBBC. Dennis’s catapult is to be banished, and he will no longer be allowed to pick on Walter the Softie, for fear that this might encourage “gay-bashing”. Even Dennis’s horrible dog, Gnasher, will be given a personality transplant. This, according to company which makes the series, Red Kite, will help Dennis appeal to the “iPod generation”.
Now, there are many ways in which to take offence at this news. Most obviously, this appears to be a case of what my old editor at the Hootsmon – who was actually rather young – used to call “political correctness gone rife”. (She was a creature of the Daily Mail, where things are always going rife.) I dare say that in this case, it is true. The BBC stands accused of not encouraging youngsters to thump each other. When children shoot each other’s eyes out with catapults, the Director General, Mr Mark Thomson, will be able to look himself in the mirror, take a drink from his £400,000 water cooler, and consider his conscience clear. Of course, now that Dennis has been equipped with a skateboard – in place, I assume, of his “cartie” – the BBC has opened itself up to the charge of encouraging knee and head injuries to children, not to mention endangering the lives of innocent pedestrians. One need only take a walk in Edinburgh’s Festival Square – also known, by the writer Mr Neal Ascherson, as Hypothermiaplatz – to understand that a teenager on a skateboard is more dangerous than a toddler with a “cattie”.
As it happens, I once spent a day in the Dundee offices of the Beano, and found it to be a most agreeable workplace. It was a small room, with two artists facing the comic’s editor, Mr Euan Kerr, whose style was, I think it fair to say, “hands-off”. There was no conversation in the room, and precious little merriment, because the art of being funny is very serious business. Mostly, the artists stared out of the window, awaiting inspiration. During my stay, this involved the appearance in the street of a child with a pump-action water pistol, which was immediately incorporated into the next Dennis the Menace storyline.
I am pleased to see that Mr Kerr is still in his post – which must make him one of the the longest-serving editors in Scotland – and I am confident that he will do all he can to preserve the innocent essence of Dennis in a grim world. (Though I note, with some horror, that Desperate Dan has traded his Colt .45 for a water pistol. I trust he will not be swapping his cow pies for a rocket salad and a glass of Evian: that would not be Cowtown).
Leaving the arguments about political correctness aside, I remain concerned for Dennis and Gnasher. As a thespian, I am a trained observer of character. Take away Dennis’s aggression, and his tendency to violence, and what remains? Will the infants of the iPod generation, their veins running orange with Sunny D, be satisfied by a tousle-haired twerp in a stripy jumper? Dennis, pour soul, will be adrift on a sea of indecision. What, he will be asking with every vacant twitch of his catapult hand, is my motivation? And what of poor Walter? If being a softie is no longer an acceptable ambition, what should he do? He cannot read books, since books are to children what unicorns are to zoologists – a comforting rumour, never to be encountered in real life. Should he attempt to befriend the beastly Dennis, and wallow in the absence of threats to his person? Surely not.
Besides, I do not understand why thumping softies has anything to do with “gay-bashing”. To suggest that it does is to imply that homosexuals are weak, and that, I think, is called homophobia.


Rob Spear said...

The softies have staged a coup d'etat, it seems, and the softocracy is rife.

Anonymous said...

The cultural Marxist feminisation of the West continues apace as does the society - wrecking reverence for that Leftist deity, Diversity, so the travails of both Dennis and the sadly disarmed Desperate Dan have been long - heralded. For the sake of 'inclusion' the latter character should now be known as 'Disparate Dan' while a rebranding of the former in his new guise as equalitarian role - model should see him safely restyled as 'Dennis the Mentor'.


Adullamite said...

Not that I was ever keen on Dennis, a wee ned who grew up to become a banker and now lives of his fat pension somewhere in Spain.

However that said this is worrying for what the BBCs stupidity department might demand is done to the 'Bash Street Kids.' In fact, now that has me thinking and I think I need to lie down for a week.