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Does BBC’s Rastamouse Stereotype Black People, Even Make Children Racist?

Posted on the 17 January 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Does BBC’s Rastamouse stereotype black people, even make children racist?

Rastamouse. Photo credit: BBC

Rastamouse, a BBC TV series about a crime-fighting Rastafarian mouse was the most complained about children’s programme last year. The show, which is aimed at children under six, received more than 200 complaints because of the way it “stereotyped black people” and its use of Jamaican patois language, reported The Daily Mail. None of the complaints was upheld.

Rastamouse uses patois language – and phrases such as ‘me wan go’ for ‘I want to go’ and ‘wagwan’ for ‘what’s going on?’ noted The Daily Mail.

Some parents have taken to Mumsnet to voice their fears that children using the same language as the mice in the Bafta-nominated programme could be accused of racism. One Mumsnet user, TinyD4ncer, asked fellow users for advice on whether to stop their child watching the programme, posting: “I dont want my DD to talk this way. Do you think I should stop her watching it?” reported The Daily Mail.

A BBC spokesman confirmed that nine out of ten complaints had been about the language spoken by Rastamouse and his Easycrew, but added: “This was one of our most popular children’s programmes last year. We have had a huge amount of positive feedback about Rastamouse, which continues to be a hit with our young viewers and which was consistently in the top ten CBeebies shows viewed on iPlayer throughout 2011.”

An editorial (!) in The Daily Telegraph slammed the BBC for the show and insisted Rastamouse has attracted lots of complaints “with good reason.“ “The BBC comes in for a great deal of criticism, much of it justified – but there is one field in which its record will never be matched, let alone surpassed: the art of patronising ethnic minorities.” The Telegraph said that, “not all mothers – including black mothers – are keen to hear their offspring mangle the English language (or, depending on your point of view, appropriate a rich oral heritage). As a result, Rastamouse became the most complained about children’s programme last year. But to no avail. None of the complaints was upheld. Which is convenient for the BBC, innit?”

A Telegraph commenter named dkee suggested that Rastamouse is part of BBC plot to get kids hooked on drugs: “rastafarians smoke dope, they take drugs, all the time, it’s what defines them, it’s what they are. Rasatamouse is the BBC’s lovable drug taker, your children are being encouraged to feel affection for a puppet that represents a culture of drug taking layabouts, thats it.”

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