Menace: world’s naughtiest boy set for remake
Dennis the Menace is back on TV. The boy who ignores the rules is still popular 65 years after he was first drawn. Why do many of us love a rogue more than someone who does the right thing?
A new animated TV series of Dennis the Menace is coming out. The young rebel was first sketched on the back of a cigarette packet 65 years ago. Since then readers have enjoyed his pranks and naughty behaviour in the popular Beano comics. But he has not been on TV for several years.
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Dennis still has spiky hair, a red and black jersey and a dog called Gnasher. But he is no longer spanked with a slipper and is less likely to bully the boring Walter for being ‘girly’.
Readers enjoy Dennis’s devilish pranks. ‘In most children’s books a bad child gets made good,’ says children’s author Michael Rosen. ‘But the great thing about Dennis is he never gets better.’
Children’s books have often included heroes who do not follow the rules. The pickpocketing Artful Dodger, in Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, is loved by many readers. Sweden’s Pippi Longstocking has been world famous since 1945. Bart Simpson and Horrid Henry are more recent examples.
Parents may not want their children to be like them, but lovable rogues are popular.
We love these heroes because they do the things we would love to do. Any child thinks of doing or saying things which anger adults. Children are freed to explore their wicked side in a safe way when they read about the mischievous behaviour of fictional characters. We can pretend these things are happening when they are not.
Sometimes real-life rebels should be celebrated. Children who question rules and push boundaries often become successful adults, because they take risks and stand up for themselves. People who follow rules blindly are disadvantaged when life becomes more complicated. Maybe when he grows up, Dennis will not be such a menace after all.
- Who is your favourite naughty character from books or TV?
- Draw a Beano-inspired comic strip about a mischievous child.
Some People Say...
“The world needs people who make mischief.”
What do you think?
- Drawn, either by hand or on a computer, in a way that makes it look as if a character is moving.
- Drawn roughly, without being too deliberate or exact. The editor had asked the artist to come up with an idea for Dennis.
- Stealing from people’s pockets.
- Causing trouble in a playful, fun way.
- Less likely to succeed.