Except of course, it isn't. But that didn't stop newspapers from churning around a story this week that the cartoon character had been 'toned down' by 'politically correct' BBC bosses.
Dennis is no longer the menace he once was after a BBC makeover that has transformed him into a politically correct shadow of his former self.
squawks the Mail, before re-hashing a couple of old articles to fill up the space, while providing no evidence to back up their story whatsoever. The Mail had lifted their effort from The Sun, who had roared:
COMIC tearaway Dennis The Menace has been turned into Walter The Softy by politically correct BBC bosses.
Except, as this fine blog post reveals, that's not the case at all, for anyone who actually wanted to check what they were writing to see if it resembled the truth or not (which naturally rules out tabloid journalists):
The Sun's story followed a traditional psychological redtop technique: printing alleged political correct quotes from anonymous "insiders" and "sources" to get their readers revved up, then a counter-claim from a named source at the end of the article. But by the the time the readers have reached the final quote they've already absorbed the myth and the red mist has descended.
They're all too willing to believe it, of course, because it weaves together two familiar and fire-stoking narratives: firstly, that Britain is going to the dogs because of the so-called politically correct brigade, who mean you can't even set fire to golliwogs any more without being labelled 'racist' by the Guardianista bastards; and secondly, that the socialist scum at the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation are trying to manipulate our children by producing a stream of extreme leftist propaganda. Combine the two, and bingo. No need to check. Why check? It might ruin the story!
Lew Stringer continues:
The way in which the national press can so easily and rapidly manipulate their readers with disinformation is quite disturbing. Yes, the "new" Dennis does look different to the way he was in the 1950s, but what these media reports ignore is that any changes have happened gradually over the past 50 years, not overnight by the BBC as they suggest. But if they admitted that they wouldn't have a story to pad out the pages of their bulging papers, and they wouldn't be achieving their usual remit - winding up "Little Englanders" into such a beetroot-faced apoplexy that they feel the right-of-centre papers are their only comfort zone.
Exactly. Someone take a slipper to the Sun and the Mail and take away their peashooters; it's the only language they understand.
Thanks to Suave for the tipoff!