Here’s Why Some People Are Claiming The Mary Poppins Movie Is Racist

Oct 13th, 2021

When it comes to classic Disney films, the 1964 classic Mary Poppins is one fo the well-loved all across the globe. The movie starred by the biggest names in Hollywood – Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Also, the movie was made a mix of classy humor that many viewers truly enjoyed.

If you have not watched the movie yet, what you need to know is that Mary Poppins promises a fun and entertaining experience with a life lesson to learn on the side.

The remake of this movie features Emily Blunt. However, even though a lot of families loved Mary Poppins, the original film went under the scrutinizing eyes of so many people.

If you can remember, one of the original scenes of the movie features blackface and this made the social media users torn between whether this movie should be considered racist or not. And all the debate regarding its political correctness started when an English and gender studies professor, Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, pointed particularly at this scene.

If you have not seen the original Mary Poppins movie, this is the scene when Mary Poppins and Bert took the children, Jane and Michael, on an adventure tour at the London rooftops. Bert’s chimney sweep friends were also with them. The tour involved the inner workings of many chimneys and it didn’t take long for them to be covered in soot.

When Mary Poppins noticed how dirty the kids are, she started to wipe them off, but instead of cleaning them, wiping only made it worse. The soot was now smudged all over their faces.

Professor Pollack-Pelzner’s controversial opinion states that he is questioning the motivation of the original movie. Was Disney purposefully trying to poke fun at the blackface or the racial caricatures that this scene represents? Was it all for fun? Pollack-Pelzner’s article entitled, “Mary Poppins and a Nanny’s Shameful Flirting with Blackface” was published in the New York Times.

A part of his article reads: “The 1964 film replays this racial panic in a farcical key. When the dark figures of the chimneysweeps step in time on a roof, a naval buffoon, Admiral Boom, shouts, ‘We’re being attacked by Hottentots,’ and orders his cannon to be fired at the ‘cheeky devils. ’ We’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface.

It’s a parody of black menace; it’s even posted on a white nationalist website as evidence of the film’s racial hierarchy. And it’s not only fools like the Admiral who invoke this language… Blackface minstrelsy, in fact, could be said to be part of Disney’s origin story… Disney has long evoked minstrelsy for its topsy-turvy entertainment – a nanny blacking up, chimney sweeps mocking the upper classes, grinning lamplighters turning work into a song. ”

Those who loved the original movie not happy with Professor Pollack-Pelzner’s opinion. In fact, some Disney fans see this as a sin against Walt himself. People only want to think that the original Mary Poppins movie was an entertaining way of showing the playful side of life. That there is nothing political or racist regarding the scene in question.

But somehow, Pollack-Pelzner’s article and opinions put a dark mark on this Disney classic movie.