Monday, 28 February 2011

Rastamouse is coming to get you and your children

"This is bloody awful! I would never let my kid watch this lol. id make them watch them old school classics, instead of this shit where they cant even teach decent english to young children."

The aforementioned is a stumbled-upon comment of a friend of a friend on Facebook concerning the recently-launched kids' TV show Rastamouse - a charming, upbeat programme that neither terrifies nor patronises children and is based on the premise of "makin' a bad ting good".

Extolling the virtues of Rastafarianism (which, incidentally, has inspired some of the greatest music ever recorded), Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew, the all-mouse reggae band, spread their time between the Nuff Song recording studio and solving problems through an ethos of respect, understanding and love. It's really rather nice.

Unless, of course, you're a bit narrow-minded and a borderline racist - like the illiterate fuckwit who typed the above words. Worried that Rastamouse will threaten British kids' ability to learn "decent English", he who is grammatically challenged fails to notice the irony of his point. "Decent" English, you would assume, involves a sound knowledge of where to use apostrophes and an understanding that proper nouns are capitalised.

Perhaps his flawless grasp of the written word can be attributed to "old school classics" like Teletubbies - which had the etymological credibility of a cucumber - or Sesame Street, where kids are actively taught to pronounce "zee" instead of "zed" because it's cheaper for domestic TV networks to import American shows.

Rastamouse, by contrast, is a home-grown creation that explores the nuances of Jamaican patois in a TV-friendly, non-threatening, accessible way. Not only is it linguistically credible, it fosters an early sense of curiosity in British multiculturalism and how the native tongue is spoken. It certainly never did me any harm - the son of white, middle-class parents with a penchant for Jamaican music, I was brought up on a strict musical diet of 1970s roots reggae. Not a weekend or car journey went by without me hearing patois, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it didn't compromise my ability to learn how to speak "decent English" or, indeed, how to construct a sentence properly.

This Facebook commenter's closed-mindedness is more threatening to his unborn child than Rastamouse ever will be. He's not even going to encourage his children to watch what he perceives as classics, he's going to "make" them. Let's hope he has a low sperm count, or something.

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