Rasta Monkey… What an Offensive Title!

at some point after I returned from Taiwan last year I heard about an iPhone game called Rasta Monkey. It was selling for $1.99 and you guessed it! you play the game as a Rastafarian Monkey. At the time I looked at the title of the game and I thought “Wow what a racist title!” Since The NAACP will complain about a garbled word on a Hallmark card (here if you’re curious), I assumed that someone would quickly complain about this title and it would be modified. So I mentioned to the people near me at the time that I felt that it was quite offensive and beyond that I was quite happy to let someone else complain about it to Apple.

But recently I was talking to a friend about the Hallmark card I linked to earlier and this game jumped into my brain. I thought surely someone has done something about this offensive title. I went over to my Girlfriend’s iPhone to see if it was still on the market and it is!  it is now $.99 instead of $1.99. I think this is quite ridiculous, and I don’t understand why more people are not complaining about this offensive game title.

I thought that maybe I was over-thinking or being too easily offended with this so I embarked upon an enlightening Google search. In 2008 Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski was forced to resign as a delegate for Obama because she referred to some African American kids swinging around in a tree as monkeys (check it out here). her exact words were something like “quit playing around in that tree like a bunch of monkeys.” In my humble opinion the usage of the term, in this context, was not racist. Monkey’s do swing in trees. It seems to me that she was showing genuine concern for the welfare of the children. She didn’t want them to fall out of the tree and crack their heads open. But she was encouraged to resign anyways.  It is also worthwhile to mention that she received a $75 dollar fine for disorderly conduct which shows that the government (her city’s government) perceived her actions as being wrong and against the law.

Here we have a game where a group that is largely African-American (I consider Jamaica to be part of the Americas) being likened to monkeys swinging through trees. This is especially offensive because as aforementioned monkey can be used as a derogatory term for people of African descent. Furthermore, to my knowledge, Rastafarians are not known for swinging around in trees like monkeys. So I really doubt that this game title would be acceptable under any context.

I am shocked that Apple allowed this application to get onto the app store with this title, and even more surprised that it has stayed in the app store for this length of time. It is a well known fact that Apple actively filters the content of the app store so I must wonder what this says about their priorities.

If you want to read an actual review of this game go here. If you think I am being uptight about it then let me know. My mind is not set on anything ever so if I am wrong I will admit it. But for now, in my opinion, Nitako’s Rasta Monkey game is quite offensive. I really wonder why this has not been a bigger deal!

7 Responses to “Rasta Monkey… What an Offensive Title!”

  1. monster says:

    ur dum

    You state the case of Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski being wrongfully accused of racism because her words were misconstrued. You then u-turn on yourself and completely misinterpret the game and make wild accusations of racism with the same conclusion jumping logic. It doesn’t liken Rastafarians to monkeys; it’s simply a monkey that happens to be a Rastafarian. He could have been a French Monkey or a Ninja Monkey or anything, it was just what the developers settled on for the style of the game.

    You version of political correctness gone mad is just as bad as the Hallmark card or the Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski example

    • RJ says:

      Well, no reason to be mean about it my friend.

      but in any case the word monkey has never been used in a derogatory way to describe French people or Ninja’s so it does not apply to my posting. Perhaps I should have elaborated more in my posting, I don’t think that the title is just racist. Imagine if the title was Catholic Monkey or Protestant Monkey, I am sure it would never have been allowed on the app store.

      But I must say that just like Linda Ramirez Sliwinski, I think that any offensiveness is accidental. But accidental offensiveness is still offensive.

      But in any case you are 100% entitled to your disagreement, have a nice day.

  2. Macca says:

    Great post RJ and spot on reply to ‘monster’s comments. The entire reason that the title is racist is that the word Monkey has long been used as a derogatory term for black people and the last time I checked most Rastafarians are black.

    If ‘monster’ thinks we’re stretching off the top of my head I can think of the example of some black soccer players getting racial abuse in Spain and Italy in the form of monkey noises/chants and throwing bananas at them (simple google search reveals a specific example –> http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/4751876.stm). No white soccer players have received the same monkey chants.

    I am somewhat disturbed by this recent trend of willfully ignoring, or discounting, clear racism under the guise of ‘political correctness gone mad’. I strongly believe these individuals would be more comfortable using the term ‘racially insensitive’ rather than flat out ‘racist’ because it suggests a lack of malice – political correctness coming full circle to comfort those who would admonish it. :)

    • RJ says:

      I fully agree and I think it is worthwhile to mention again, just to make sure that those who read this are clear, that I think there is more than racism at play here. Because I know that they would NEVER disrespect certain other religions in this manner. The fact that there have been no complaints about this for so long shows a fundamental disrespect for the Rastafarian religion.

      I also want to say that I have no problems with what I have seen of the content of the game other than the fact that the monkey is wearing a type of hat that is commonly tied to Jamaicans in movies and popular culture. And I think that even the hat concern is getting a little nit picky. I do not think that the game should be totally scrapped and trashed, and I definitely DO NOT want Nitako to be sued or anything like that. I just want there to be a little more respect for all cultures and religions.

  3. mmm says:

    everyone is way to sensitive these days,its a silly game with no other meaning!

  4. Simon says:

    Agree that rasta monkey is offensive, but equally offensive is that you “consider Jamaica to be part of the Americas”. Since it’s independence from the uk, it has remained part of the british commonwealth and the queen is still head of state. It’s your kind of ignorance (with colonial undertones) that gives americans a bad name.

    • rj says:

      Sorry for the response 2 years later but I just haven’t been to this thing in forever.

      Anyways, I would say that Jamaica is, geographically speaking, part of the Americas. When I use the term Americas I am speaking of North America, Central America and South America.

      Also, when someone uses the term the Americas, contrary to what you seem to think, it does not mean the United States of America, you, my friend, are the only one seeing these colonial undertones or whatever. here is my source.

      But if you like the term Afro-Caribbean better I will use that next time when referring to my ethnic/national group, actually no I won’t.

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