It's like anything else - the basic principles of silver halide photography, from a user standpoint, are very uncomplicated. But it's like chess - a minute to learn, and a lifetime to master.
When people come to forums like APUG, they all have varying degrees of skill, anticipation, and expectation. People already on here have varying degrees of skill, anticipation, and expectation. When a novice has access to all that was ever written on APUG, where very serious darkroom users argue about minutiae, of course it's going to seem difficult. How is a novice going to be able to distinguish between what's 'beginner stuff' and what's for 'really freaking advanced darkroom work'? That's right - they can not.
So, access to information, and people with information is infinitely easier today than it was 20 or 50 years ago. It's good that we can all hang out online and discuss things, but it's bad because for a beginner it is simply information overload.
Film photography is no more difficult now than it was 20 years ago. It is basically the same. If we gave a student access only to a couple of beginner's publications from Ilford or Kodak, gave them a camera and equipment, and some time to go through the process with a little bit of aid in showing basic things like loading film, operating the enlarger, etc - we would see people realizing that getting the basics is not difficult at all. That is how people would learn.
Today they expect results too quickly, and don't have the patience to learn something from the bottom up. Combined with the absolutely ridiculous amount of information that is available out there, and the intimidation that may impose on a beginner, is anybody really surprised that people consider it difficult?