Is Rastamouse Racist? - The Racism Controversy
Who would have thought that such a small rodent would cause such a stir amongst so many?
Rastamouse is a new childrens cartoon showing in the UK but soon to be exported around the world, along with the usual merchandise. Its premise is of a band of Jamaican mice that are in a reggae band but more importantly are crime fighters with a catch phrase of 'making a bad ting good' .... Quite positive with a moral message so you would expect parents to be delighted wouldn't you !!
However this BBC cartoon based on a book by Michael De Souza, himself a Rastafarian, has caused quite a stir with accusations of racism being thrown around.
The programme is aimed at 2-3 year olds who have no concept of racism, unless of course perhaps if there parents are hard core rascists themselves. Most children now mix with children of other ethnic backgrounds with no problems at all.
A lot of the comments on websites about Rastamouse being racist seems to come from 2 types of people. Firstly, well meaning white middle class 'liberals' who have probably never met a Rastafarian. The other comes from the more political and dare I say 'intellectual' wing of the Afro Caribbean community. The vast majority of people writing in The Voice; a Black British newspaper seem to love the programme citing it as the first programme on TV for children that gives a sense of identity to their younger children, and after all, that is who it is aimed at.
Perhaps one of the more telling comments was by Rastafarian musician and entrepreneur Levi Roots who was initially asked to do the voice but refused. His main objection is that it is a rodent that portrays the Rasta, whereas in Rastafarianism, this would normally be represented by a Lion or Royalty. Whilst, with my limited knowledge of Rastafarianism, this is probably true, it did set me wondering if this is more about the 'macho' side of the culture rather than the race side.
But I guess some people are never happy unless they are complaining and arguments about other nationalities wouldn't like it if they were portrayed as animals .. well .. Pinky and Perky ... Pepe Le Pew to name but a couple.
All I can say is that it's a great little programme and I would encourage you to watch it if you get a chance and in case you don't here's a couple of clips from youtube for you.