Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daily Mail advocates violence in comics

Here we go again. This week the British media have gotten their knickers in a twist over comics. This time it's about Dennis the Menace being "toned down" and not being allowed his catapult. The Daily Mail, Metro, The Sun, and tv's The Wright Stuff are marching to the same drum, banging on about how "political correctness" has ruined The Beano.

But hang on, didn't the press cover this exact same story six months ago? And similar ones many times before? Yep, but perhaps they assume their readers are too thick to notice.

The story has some truth to it; violence in comics can be a catharsis for readers, but the anti-PC stance of the press in general is riddled with half-truths and bad research. This isn't even a new story, so why did they regurgitate it? Well, there's an election coming up so perhaps they think any excuse to attack the "loony left" will do, and "political correctness" is seen to be associated with left-wingers. Telling Little Englanders that the loony left is trying to spoil our kids' fun is like watching a kettle boil, except the kettle would produce less steam and doesn't clog up the roads on the school run.

Beyond the political agenda there is no logic behind this Beano-bashing by the right-of-centre press. On the one hand they want Dennis to return to vandalism and bullying, but those are the very things the press rages about on a daily basis. I strongly suspect that if Dennis did become more violent the Daily Mail would be the first paper to condemn it, blowing it out of proportion just as they have this story.

Let us not overlook the fact there is no "PC brigade" softening up comics. Comics were toned down because of newspapers of this ilk blasting horror comics in the 1950s and damning IPC's Action in the 1970s. The media itself created this situation that they're now blaming on some imaginary do-gooders.

Read my exposé of the media's previous Beano-bashing from last August:

Update: Title of this post changed to reflect the sort of melodramatic headline the Mail relishes in. I'm sure they won't mind. ;-)


Reuben said...

Well this is the newspaper that had this nonsensical headline

Kid said...

Well, I'm not going to get into the political aspects of the discussion, because politics is/are for grown-ups and I'm just a big kid - however......

With the possible exception of the BEANO's CALAMITY JAMES and his pet, ALEXANDER LEMMING (I haven't yet seen your strip, Lew), I've found most of the strips in the BEANO to be totally unfunny whenever I've looked at the comic in the past few years.

As the proud possessor of every DENNIS THE MENACE book ever published, I have noticed the sad decline in the quality of the strips over quite a few years. The original strips by Davey Law contain many laugh-out-loud moments, but many of the later, more modern strips are thoroughly boring, and seem to be written by the editor or members of the office staff, rather than seasoned, professional humorists. DENNIS now bears little resemblance to any semblance of comic reality (if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms) - seemingly has a pet of almost every description, a sister who is little more than a retread of IVY THE TERRIBLE, and the most insipid, unfunny stories imaginable.

One of the things that really bugs me about any humour strip is the lazy cop-out of "reader's voice" to further the story. You know - "What are you doing, Dennis?" (Reader's voice). Lazy writing at its worst, which destroys any inherent reality within the strip by the tiresome "in-joke" that it's just a comic strip and not to be regarded as actually happening. What's wrong with having a pal leaning against a fence asking the question, as opposed to that all-intrusive, uninspired "reader's voice" schtick? AAARGH! It drives me mad!

One thing's for sure - I can read stuff that is years old and still find it funny, whereas - with a few exceptions - barely raise a chuckle over the more recent offerings.

Whatever the reasons behind it, comics - in the main - just aren't as funny as they used to be. And that sure ain't no joke.

Chris said...

It's just lazy journalism plain and simple. I don't know what's worse this or the outlets who repeat it as truth.

Turn Dennis into a hoodie for a week and see how The Mail likes its then.

I like his opening paragraph though but I think he may have just lifted it from his Daily Mail job application.

"When I was eight years old, my heroes were a French terrorist drug addict who beat up Italians for pleasure, a cheating schoolboy who was regularly beaten with a slipper by his ritually sadistic father and a cruel bully with an equally vicious dog who terrorised boys about my age."
and that's why I'd like to work for your paper

Lew Stringer said...

Gordon, I think "laugh out loud" strips were always the exception rather than the rule. For every "Dennis the Menace" there were a dozen strips that would barely raise a smile.

It's also worth bearing in mind that The Beano of today is written at a slightly younger reader than the ones of 50 years ago, so the comedy can't be as broad.

Me, I just chuckled at Jamie Smart's latest Desperate Dan story in Dandy Xtreme. The talent's still out there.

Andy Ardonia said...

The comedian Stewart Lee used to do an interesting piece on political correctness (and The Daily Mail) in his stand up show

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