Connect With The BDSS

Friday, 18 February 2011

Rastamouse... the childrens show we love (it's not racist!)

Although I don’t have a child under 5, I did take the time to watch an episode of Rasta mouse.

This was after reading up about the complaints and allegations of it being racist, stereotyping, and offensive…

Now my honest opinion…I loved it!  

Sure there were something’s particularly around the dress of the characters and the mannerisms that I thought were a bit iffy (for lack of a better word).

However overall I think it is great to have a superhero of which young British children of African-Caribbean heritage can relate to (as well as other none African –Caribbean children).
Also to have African-Caribbean culture represented on mainstream TV; and in a positive light is bloody brilliant. So I say bravo to the authors of the book, the BBC, Reggie Yates and crew for bringing it all together!

I mean the story line was wonderful (cheese went missing, Rasta mouse and crew set up an operation to catch the theft, the theft repented and made good); it was not only about solving a mystery, it had forgiveness and redemption, plus reggae music all wrapped up into one cosy 15 minute (or so) episode, and I can’t see anything wrong with that.

Now if you did not know, the Rasta Mouse books have been around for years; so why no one complained then is a mystery. It’s probably because in book form it only appealed to a certain demographic; however now it is on mainstream TV people has a problem with it!

Now to address the problems which I have read about in the many articles:

1) Levi Roots (of reggae reggae sauce fame) took a not so good view of the Rasta being portrayed as a mouse; as a Rasta man he would have preferred a Lion.

2) There was a mother on mumsnet who was afraid that if her white child was to call a ‘none white’ child a ‘Rasta’ that it might be taken as an insult.

3) There are conspiracy theorists who think that the cheese is a reference for marijuana;

4) Some parents are afraid of the use of patois or slang in the programme…

Well I say Pish Posh!

The show is true to its premise: ‘a bad thing turned good’ and on the Rasta Mouse website it does not say its going to represent true Rasta culture, fight racism, prejudice or fight stereotypes. It’s a children’s programme focused on being educational and fun; whilst staying true to the Rasta Mouse books it has been adapted from.

Now address the so- called problems…

1) I would rather have a positive, crime fighting, uplifting, peace-loving Rasta Mouse than no Rasta at all portrayed on mainstream TV; and I think Levi Roots did concede it is better than nothing.

2) I would rather my own black child be called a ‘Rasta’ in reference to Rasta mouse (a positive character) rather than being called any of the other names he has been called by random white children over the years.

Also I think it boils down to you as a parent and what you teach your child about other races/cultures, because to be called a ‘Rasta’ (or any other minority non white group name/reference) is not an insult unless you think it is, and intend to use it as such.

3) Regarding the complaints about the patois or ‘slang’ there are people in the world who actually speak in Patois and use the ‘slang’, which is why it is important that the show does not dumb down for the sake of a few.

Also you only have to read some of the comments after the articles about Rasta Mouse to know that people are not ignorant to Patois and ‘Slang’.
There’s a plethora of patois and slang in the comments section.

 So lets be realistic unless your child lives in a bubble with no contact with other races/cultures etc… they will know and use slang at some point; even if only to use as an insult!

4) As for the conspiracy theorist- I think that possibly they themselves must be smoking too much marijuana!

So anyways BDSS’ers what do you think? Rasta Mouse Racist, stereotypical and offensive?

Yah Man... speak your peace!


  1. hi i saw this in the paper so i started watching it i have now recorded them i think they are the best . i am 41 and i do think that it is only the missle class WHITE people who cannot get to grips with the word multicultural yet .... irie man !! thisa alla got to say . hey and i am white with kids but they are older youngest is 15 i told her to watch it she loves it and my brother said it was very good !

  2. @ anonymous, thanks for your comment. As you said it is the best... UK is suppose to be a multicultural society so TV should represent that.

  3. I think, with tv so dominated by programmes catered to the white majority its about time they had a programme from another race, because frankly we are here and we also want to identify with someone, something anything for that matter. Every add, every programme has nothing that represent us people of colour. I applaud the tv bosses for giving this show the go ahead so that kids can know about other races and then not feel like talking to kids of different races is strange and introduce them to other cultures. The reason for this judgement of patois is because they don't know about it therefore come the the first conclusion they are used to using so, to them i say learn something, these nay sayers sound like the same parents who wanted the lady with half an arm on the children's programme to stop because "she was scaring the kids" I hope more shows with people of colour are aired in order to embrace our multicultural city. Why should this programme be viewed as a negative.

  4. I have not even heard of this program, so I thought I would watch an episode in the BBC website. It's very cool :o)

    I cannot understand the thought that this is in anyway racist. In fact, if this was not aired, that would be racist in its self as it would send a message that the program could not be aired just because the accents of the characters. If the same stories where used, but with characters from established children's programs, there would not be any debate.

    There is a representation here of a subset group of the citizens of this country, and indeed, other nations.

    "Rastamouse provokes complaints of racism and teaching bad language..."

    So if we then take any other subset of English, such as Scottish or Welsh which strays away from the queens English, should we then make the same claims about these? Maybe cheese in a Scottish version should be representative to Scotch Whisky and therefore stereotypical too?

    What could be better that representing other citizens with cultural differences in a way that shows that although they may sound different, everybody needs to deal with situations in life in much the same way as anybody else? What better way to break down barriers than to show that it's not the race that matters, as what ever languages or dialects people use, it's the human factors that govern us all that matters, and we are all bound to this. There is no better way to see through differences than showing how familiar and similar issues and circumstances are regardless of how communications take place.

    The people who state that this is stereotyping and so on need to realise that sometimes making such claims only really serves to add distance between cultures. They should understand that making statements about people viewing this as teaching bad language and is racist have in some way been made to feel that Patois is wrong and should not be used and that to portray it is negative. In effect, this view could be creating the very view they feel they are attempting to combat.

  5. I love this show! It's so refreshing seeing a show on television which is culturally diverse. I feel that my children are actually privileged to have such a show on the BBC as I can't recall anything of the sort when I was growing up.

    The BBC is also showing Tinga Tinga Tales which is a show about African folk stories again very interesting and amusing even for me at 27. This hysteria is just silly. A few weeks ago I called a radio station who was talking about it, and I was HORRIFIED that the people taking part had been chastised as perpetuating stereotypes. Most things on television are based on television and I just think people who are complaining have nothing better to do.

    If it was soooo bad, why when this talented author wrote these books many moons ago was there not a public outcry? My son was called Dora by a young white child when he was 5 even though he is neither Hispanic nor a girl, am I going to say Dora the Explorer shan't be shown because of this? No! So if he came back and had been called a Rasta so be it. It's better than blackjack which I was called walking down the street at 6!