Sunday, June 20, 2010
Lowbrow redtop calls for Beano ban
The media's at it again. Redtop Sunday paper the News of the World is today attacking the new Beano character Uh Oh, Si Co because it may allegedly lead to the bullying of children with mental health problems. Although the newspaper fails to provide a shred of evidence that comics incite bullying, it manages to rant on about it for several paragraphs, roping in mental health organizers for soundbites.
The article uses the usual method of dryly describing situations from the strip to create an alarmist story. It's a disingenuous technique because one could make any slapstick situation sound horrific by describing it in cold print. (I can just imagine such killjoys describing the old banana skin joke as "A banana skin was placed on the floor whereupon a young child slipped on it and other pupils cruelly laughed at his discomfort, caring nothing for the permanent back injuries that may have been sustained.")
In truth, Uh Oh Si Co (a spoof of the name Yu Go Oh from Japanese Manga) is exaggerated cartoon fun, drawn so over the top by the brilliant Nigel Parkinson that I fail to see how anyone could be offended by it. It's not mocking people with mental heath problems, it's just a lively cartoon strip that exaggerates Simon's reactions for comic effect.
Rich Johnston posted an excellent item about it on his Bleeding Cool site today, saying "Of course, if the Beano withdraw the character as a result of the tabloid whipped up outrage, the next week will see an article with the publishers criticised for “kow towing to the PC police.”
Uh Oh Si Co has only been running in The Beano for two weeks. Along with two other new strips, it's part of the latest Comic Idol feature where readers vote for their favourite to become a regular series. Presumably the strip will soon be rested to wait for the votes to come in, at which point the News of the World will presumably claim victory for "banning" the strip. So it goes.
Let's hope this latest pathetic media outrage leads to lots of extra sales for The Beano as people investigate to make up their own minds instead of believing the knee-jerk reactions of a downmarket gossip rag. Unfortunately I don't have that much faith in human nature and I suspect it's more likely the paper's 2,900,000 readers will believe what they're told to think. (Update: Yes, in retrospect that last sentence was a rather silly generalization for me to make, although the response from one commentator below was quite disproportionate in my opinion.)