Kids’ “Rastamouse” received scores of complaints

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Rastamouse” has plenty of detractors, mon.

Figures provided by broadcast regulator Ofcom indicate that the animated TV show about a crime-solving Rastafarian mouse was Britain’s most complained-about children’s program of 2011.

Rastamouse is made in Wales and digitally animated by Dinamo Productions. It consists of 52 10-minute episodes.

Viewers were concerned that the series “stereotyped black people.” They also lamented the patois language that characters use.

However, the British Broadcasting Corporation described Rastamouse, aimed at children under six, as one of its most popular shows of 2011.

The first episode, Da Crucial Plan, aired on digital kids’ channel CBeebies on January 31, 2011. It caused 13 complaints to be made to Ofcom. The BBC received 200-odd complaints about the series in its early broadcasts.

In “Da Crucial Plan,” da Easy Crew — the crime-fighting trio made up of Rastamouse, Scratchy and Zoomer — devise a clever plan to lure a cheeky cheese “teef.” Their slogan is “Makin’ a bad ting good.”

None of the complaints were upheld by the regulator.

While Dinamo Productions declined to comment, the program’s production company, Three Stones Media, didn’t reply to phone calls or e-mails.

“We’re a strongly multicultural production company making a program about characters co-created by a Rastafarian,” producer Greg Boardman said in a 2011 interview with The Guardian. “We think they’re great models who use logic and problem-solving for the good of a positive, creative community.”

He added: “The show has a strong message: through love, understanding and respect, Rastamouse will make a bad thing good. The whole package — music, color, rhythm and rhyme of speech — engages kids and enables that message to be heard by a wider audience.”

About 90% of the “couple of hundred” complaints about the show early last year concerned the language that the characters used, a BBC spokeswoman said.

“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,” she added.

Last year, the stop-motion show was nominated a coveted children’s BAFTA award in the pre-school animation category.

Rastamouse is an adaptation of a book. It’s been attacked on Web site Mumsnet by parents who charged that the characters are crude stereotypes and encourage little ones to use non-standard English.

However, dreadlocked poet Benjamin Zephaniah backed the characters’ use of Jamaican patois.

Rastamouse, created by Trinidadian Rasta Michael De Souza, had led to a valid debate about how black people are portrayed on TV, he said.

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About Paul Anderson

Paul is an old-timer here at BCDB- his contributions go back to before the site! Paul is widely regarded as a Disney historian, and is also on staff at the Disney Museum in San Francisco. Paul is also a contributing historian for D23, the Disney Club. Paul has published several books and magazine articles on Disney history, too. You are welcome to drop Paul a line here.


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