There are many signs of the apocalypse: A roiled stock market. A drumbeat of terrorist attacks and bombings conducted by remote drone. The announcement that a cable network will air a show called “Sex Box” in which contestants will, yes, conduct sexual congress in a big cube and then talk about it on TV.
But the latest signal that Armageddon is near comes in the form of funnies-page waif Dennis Mitchell’s latest speech patterns.
“Ya, that’s my jam!” Dennis shrieks in today’s episode of his long-running comic, as if he were a Rastafarian or a Disney Channel actor trying to find his way in the larger world of show business.
Whatever the reason for this new, “hip” patois the kid seems to have adopted, we’d advise against it. The entire raison d’etre of “Dennis the Menace” is to showcase the antics of what we would once have called a “scamp” – a young. wisecracking kid who got into trouble despite the best of intentions. The world used to be filled with scamps, whether they were one of the members of “The Partridge Family” or “The Brady Bunch” or Arnold Jackson, the character Gary Coleman played on NBC’s “Diff’rent Strokes.” The nation loved scamps, whether they were personified by the original Robin in DC’s Batman comics or the many children in the “Our Gang” movie shorts.
You don’t find many scamps nowadays. Kids grow up too fast. They are less concerned about having devil-may-care adventures and more interested in trying to become famous before they turn 21. Gone are the days when a group of children might find satisfaction in setting up a lemonade stand or taking part in a soccer league. Now they’d rather spend time posting videos of themselves via YouTube or attempt to save a rare species of animal with Reddit, Instagram and YouTube.
Let’s be honest: Dennis the Menace doesn’t have a jam, unless it is strawberry or grape and is slathered upon a peanut butter sandwich. Stuck in amber at age 5 or 6, Dennis shouldn’t know much about popular music that is not sung by Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes or appears on the soundtrack from “Frozen.” In fact, given how long he’s been around and how little he has aged during the decades, the only music he ought to recognize are the songs regularly sung on “The Howdy Doody Show.”
A word to current “Dennis”creators Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand: We know it’s important for Dennis to seem like a child of 2014, but he’s really a child of the 1950s. We’d much rather hear him say “Golly!’ or “Gosh!” than “That’s my jam!”
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