Earlier this week Bryony Gordon reported on how Dennis the Menace had been given a PC makeover.
But kids aren’t stupid. They get it. Witness eight-year-old Jacob Rush, from Ipswich, who noticed that Dennis the Menace now looks more like that sweet little swimmer Tom Daley. He’s slimmed down, his hair has softened, he’s smiling. He doesn’t bully Walter the Softy, who now has a girlfriend, as opposed to that pink poodle Foo Foo. Dennis no longer fires his catapult or his pea-shooter. Gnasher hasn’t tasted human flesh for some time now. Naturally, little Jacob was quite upset by this, and sent off an email to the Beano making his feelings clear. The publishers replied, blaming the new BBC cartoon in which Dennis has been given a PC makeover in order to comply with editorial and content guidelines.
When I read it I believed this excuse by publishers DC Thompson. Having seen the latest issue, though, I’m not so sure. In the third frame of Billy Whizz we have a teacher saying:
“Now it’s safe to have our lesson about saving energy!”
The neighbouring strip – a fairly new one called Super School (including a character evidently ripped off from Viz’s Johnny Fartpants called Stinkbomb!) – ends with a baddy shown huffing and puffing at a wind turbine.
We are told:
“He has to work at a wind-farm for a month to give the country free energy.”
All right, fair enough, you might think. Wind farms do exist (more’s the pity) so there’s no reason necessarily to exclude them from Britain’s oldest and best-loved comic.
But then you look below the cartoon and a little educational screed has been added:
“WIND FACT – A FIFTH OF ALL THE ELECTRICITY PRODUCED IN DENMARK COMES FROM WIND POWER – NOW THAT’S A USELESS FACT FOR YOU!”
Well I’m sorry but that little “Hey we’re all crazy and just having fun here kids” disclaimer at the end in no way mitigates the fact that what is going on here is gratuitous eco-propaganda which has absolutely no place in a children’s comic.
And if we’re really going to “educate” kids about the Danish wind farm experience, mightn’t it also be a good idea to mention how it has been a complete disaster for the Danes – driving their utility bills to ruinously high levels and forcing them to rely for most of their electricity needs (wind power being very erratic) on conventional power imported from their neighbours? Or is that the kind of unpalatable truth that ought to be kept from our dear ones?