Rastamouse, a reggae-singing, crime-solving rat puppet, has become a big hit with Britain’s children. But according to some parents and activists, the BBC character is a bad influence on the nation’s youth.
More than a hundred complaints have been lodged with the BBC over Rastamouse’s use of Jamaican slang, the Telegraph reports. Rastamouse says “ting” instead of “thing,” “irie” in place of “happy,” and prefers “wagwan?” to “what’s going on?”
“The thing I’m most worried about is her saying the words like ‘Rasta’ and going up to a child and saying (these) things,” said one concerned parent on Britain’s Mumsnet forum. She adds: “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.”
British author and psychologist Delroy Constantine-Simms has no love for Rastamouse either. “The airing of Rastamouse by the BBC is nothing more than the covert perpetuation of a negative ideology,” he writes The Voice. “It serves to assert the inferiority of Caribbean culture, often perpetrated by financially and disinherited representatives from the targeted group. “
The rodent has also burrowed into the hearts of Britain’s pot enthusiasts, says The Guardian. Rastamouse often remarks upon his love of “cheese” –- a code word for marijuana.
Despite the squabble, the BBC says they stand by the character. “”Rastamouse is part of a rich and varied CBeebies schedule, which is dedicated to reflecting the lives of all children in this country,” they write in a statement. “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.”