Perhaps it is that some adults can no longer be children. I can still get pleasure from Enid Blyton books - as children always have done. It was adults who banned them in the sixties, finding racism in the golliwog villains in Noddy and homosexuality in the friendships developed in young teenager adventures. In fact Enid Blyton suffered far more from the over-the-top PC brigade than Punch has ever done. Now we have you feeling sick.
But the children
still love the books.
Children are remarkably resilient to adult efforts to change them. I remember in the late 60s, early 70s there was a period when fantasy was out! This applied to television as well as literature. Instead of Fairy Stories we had books which introduced young children to ideas about being adopted, about having divorced parents, and about coping with the death of a parent. At the same time Grimm's tales were considered too dark for children, while Mother Goose was too nonsensical or lacking in reality.
There was quite a concentrated effort to kill off the fairies and the goblins and the elves. How successfully you can judge by what has bubbled to the top since - Harry Potter - Lord of the Rings. I remember losing a TV series because a new head of department, bubbling with the latest theories, condemned my scripts with "this whole business of anthropomorphism is so old hat, you just don't understand the modern child". This was in the year that "Watership Down" was the run-away best seller.
No, despite the efforts of the educationists and entertainment providers and fashion makers - theorists all - it would seem that though they can certainly influence the behavior and the surface attitudes they do not alter the child at the core which is the part that responds to imaginative stimulation.
I always am saddened by the wretched destiny of so many children - to become adults.
By the way Chris, you say
Or do you think slapstick humour is once again becoming acceptable?
I have not experienced a time in my life when it hasn't been acceptable.
Live entertainment is now novel and exciting.
It always has been Chris.