As we posted yesterday, the animated reggae-singing mouse that has become a children’s television hit on the BBC has sparked complaints from parents who fear the show is racist and encourages the use of slang. Jonathan Wynne-Jones and Jasper Copping, writing for London’s Telegraph, look at the controversy surrounding the dreadlocked Rasta-rodent.
He is an animated reggae-singing mouse who has become a hit for the BBC, entertaining children with his attempts to fight crime and spread love and respect.
Yet dreadlocked Rastamouse has provoked more than a hundred complaints to the corporation with parents expressing fears the show is racist and encouraging the use of slang.
Mothers on online parenting forums have even raised fears that the programme could result in playground fights if children try to copy the mouse.
One mother on the Mumsnet forum, using the name TinyD4ncer, says she is concerned her child be attacked for repeating some of the Jamaican Patois phrases used by the mouse.
“The thing I’m most worried about is her saying the words like ‘Rasta’ and going up to a child and saying (these) things … my child is white and I feel if she was to say this to another child who was not white that it would be seen as her insulting the other child.”
Another parent, on Bumpandbaby.com, says: “just watched a couple videos .. I’m going to say it is racist,” while a blogger on musicmagazine website describes the show as “a mildly racist take on Rastafarians in the form of a cute mouse”.
The BBC has received complaints from six viewers that the animated show stereotypes black people, while another 95 have complained about the language used in the show.
The Rastafarian mouse, who leads a band called the Easy Crew and speaks in Jamaican Patois, uses phrases such as “me wan go” (“I want to go”), “irie” (“happy”), “wagwan” (“what’s going on?”). His mission is to “make a bad ting good”.
The show has proved to be very popular since it was launched on CBeebies last month, and has been praised for being funny and educational at the same time.
“We wanted to create something contemporary, colourful and fun that would appeal not just to black children, but to other children as well,” said Genevieve Webster, who co-authored the books that the show is based on.
“I want children and grown-ups to watch it and enjoy it, be uplifted by the message and the seriously cool music.”
A BBC spokesman said: “The Rastamouse books are written in Afro-Caribbean Patois rhyme and this authentic voice has been transferred to the TV series to retain its heart, integrity and distinctive quality.
“Rastamouse is part of a rich and varied CBeebies schedule, which is dedicated to reflecting the lives of all children in this country.
“Although Rastamouse has a particular appeal to young Afro-Caribbean children, its entertaining stories and positive messages – about friendship, respect and community – are intended to be enjoyed by all our young viewers, regardless of their backgrounds.”