Thursday, 28 December 2017

MODERNISING THE MENACE: KEV F ON SKY NEWS

We've seen it time and time again, fully grown adults getting their knickers in a twist because the comic/cartoon/character (delete as applicable) today's children are enjoying isn't the same as when they were growing up.  It doesn't matter the target audience is children and not adults, they'll still bitch and moan, despite all the evidence being there that the kids are loving whatever it is they're watching or reading.  Just have a look at a previous post I wrote about online "critics" of today's UK comics to see the perfect examples of what I mean.

The latest target of these close-minded individuals and trashy tabloids whose sales rely on getting their readers angry about one thing or another, is Dennis in Beano.  The "Menace" part of his name has been dropped and some parents are apparently up in arms about it, with the leader of all things trashy, The Sun, going so far as to say he's been "changed into a softie".  Laughable.  If you read back on Dennis strips from decades ago he can come across as a bit of a school bully in his treatment of Walter etc., even though that was never the original intention obviously.  But the world has moved on.  This and the smacking of him with his dad's slipper are simply things which a child's hero can't be seen to be partaking in these days.  This shouldn't need to be explained, but apparently for some it does.

Former Oink! cartoonist, and Beano contributor obviously, Kev F Sutherland was invited onto Sky News to discuss the changes that have happened to Dennis and he does a brilliant job of setting the record straight:

Click on the image to be taken to the video on Sky News' website

Dennis is still the same mischievous character and I love the idea of Walter being the kind of person Kev describes here.  It all sounds like the perfect modernisation of characters originally created in another time.  I can fully understand nostalgia, but sometimes it's the harking back to simpler times and our own childhood, all of it and not just the comic/cartoon/character, that we're doing.  Rose-tinted glasses are one thing, but getting angry over a children's comic character to the degree some have when it's no longer aimed at them is quite ridiculous.

To those people:  It's not about you anymore.  It's about the kids.  Just as it always has been.

UPDATE: Lew Stringer has written a piece about this on his own blog which shows just how pathetic the British tabloids are and how easily people can overreact to something which has absolutely nothing to do with them.  He also points out just how long ago this actually happened!  Definitely worth a read!

9 comments:

Lew Stringer said...

Well said, Phil. Kev put his point across very well. If Sky News had done some research they'd discover that "the Menace" was dropped from the title over a year ago. Life carried on as normal, no one got hurt, kids still enjoyed Beano. News items like that always stir up the fuddy-duddys, angry about a comic they gave up reading ages ago.

Comics have always evolved. If they hadn't, we'd still be reading 8 page stories about jolly tramps and sailors, and comics full of racial slurs.

The irony of it all is that the critics label us as "snowflakes" but they're the ones getting outraged over a kids' comic!

PhilEdBoyce said...

To be fair to the newsreader he does come across like he knows things have to change to survive and is agreeing with Kev. A newsreader might completely agree with an interviewee but they still have to ask the questions and challenge people, basically to ask the questions the audience want asked, even if they don’t agree with the challenge or already know the answer. (This is easily the main reason people erroneously shout “bias” at a challenging BBC interview, for example.) I think it was a fair interview and helps to get the message out there.

That message obviously being exactly the points you’ve raised there. I think if people are getting outraged at a kid’s comic they need to take a look at their own life! Also, when certain people complain that comics are “too PC” these days, to me that’s just an admission that they like things like racist slurs, capital punishment, school bullying etc. They shouldn’t be listened to and the fact this is a news story at all is quite laughable!

Lew Stringer said...

Very true, Phil. I was being too unfair on Sky there.

Yes, the moaners' attitude is exactly that. They're annoyed because it's unacceptable now to insult people for being different. Just shows what unpleasant people they must be to find it difficult not to hurl racist or sexist abuse!

PhilEdBoyce said...

Oh that was more general chit chat than any kind of correction aimed at you there, Lew. But yes you’re right, they’ll be the same kind of people complaining about the new Doctor and the new Ghostbusters for being female, or that the new Thunderbirds weren’t puppets, or they changed Starbuck’s gender (see also Kono in Hawaii Five-0 and Higgins in the upcoming Magnum PI remake) or that basically everything isn’t exactly the same as three or four decades ago.

Nicholas Benedict Robinson said...

My previous comment disappeared so I'll go again. What I said more or less was that I agree that some of the media stories around this have been ott and reactionary - the Daily Star article for example. But most people are reacting strongly simply because this is a character that they care deeply about. And what DC said about Dennis changing his menacing ways and apologising for his past does seem to match the dropping of "the Menace", no more softies, etc. The question is - arethey actually adding to the character with the new changes or are they just streamlining it for current times? No one supports racist or sexist abuse or anything of the sort - it's unfair to level that against people who are voicing opinions on this. People are objecting to a hollowing out of a beloved character because that does seem to be what's happening and that is fair enough. Nick Robinson (age 43 and two fifths)

p.s I hope this story is driving lotsof traffic to your blog. And to yours, Lew. They deserve it.
pps. RIP Jim Baikie

PhilEdBoyce said...

No one is making the leap and calling people sexist or racist over Dennis, we were talking about other examples of like-minded people, and in the case of the other examples it is true, no matter how much we wish it wasn’t. It even made the press as far as Ghostbusters and Doctor Who are concerned; so-called “adults” viciously attacking people with pure hatred, loads of online bullies (read: cowards) making such attacks for example to Leslie Jones for being both female and black. They were disgusting and there’s still plenty of blogs and commenters out there still doing this re. Doctor Who and others. For Dennis they’re obviously not being sexist/racist but they are making horrible vicious attacks against those that work on Beano (same thing happened when The Dandy had its image change).

Dennis lost “the Menace” a long time ago now and those complaining admit to not having read it since they were children. No offence to them (because I wouldn’t stoop to their level) but it’s none of their business, it’s for the children and they love him. Long-running characters always evolve over time (see also Bond, Who etc.). He isn’t being “streamlined” or “hollowed out”, that’s unfair, he’s been evolving for decades and will continue to do so as times change. There’s simply things that were in his strips that can’t be today.

PhilEdBoyce said...

Oh and thanks for sending your comment through again :) not sure what happened to it but it never appeared in my moderation queue. Thanks for your kind words about the blog too and to do so while mentioning Lew’s is very humbling! Thanks Nick.

Nicholas Benedict Robinson said...

I'm sure working in the industry gives you a much more acute sense of the vitriol that's flying around. I can imagine it's pretty bad to be on the receiving end of it.

For both sides though like I said I still feel the question is with all these things, be it Bond, Dr.Who, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, etc - are they actually being added to by the changes or just being made more acceptable (or sanitised to use the Sky reporters word)? We disagree on what the changes mean in this case. It's a shame a more reasonable and honest version of the criticism didnt prevail.

Difficult and serious matters. We need Mary Whitehouse back!

PhilEdBoyce said...

I don’t work in the industry, these attacks are widespread and clearly visible to all. There’s no excuse for them. People who attack others the way those people have are not a “side”, they’re evil, twisted, bullies and trolls. It’s okay to disagree about a change but not to do what they have and are still doing.

Change isn’t happening just for the sake of it. Bond can no longer treat women the way he did. Dennis can’t be a bully and get punished with being hit with slippers. To say these are “sanitised” sounds like they’re not necessary changes, that they’re just being sanitised and edited down from what they “should be”. That’s just not true.

A good example is Who and Ghostbusters. Paul Feig was a huge fan and wanted the top four SNL comedians of the day, just like the original. Today those happened to be women. He worked from that and produced something that was far fresher and funnier. But that didn’t stop people from trolling and bullying, personally attacking with mysongistic hatred and attacking Leslie Jones with racist attacks.

As for Dennis, he’s for children and the cries of “they’re ruining my childhood” is not only untrue and impossible, but does not excuse the behaviour of these bullies. The fact they want Dennis to be a bully (which is how the old Dennis would be seen today) speaks volumes of who they really are.