Now the classic movie Mary Poppins is being accused of racism.
I think your article is ridiculous. Another example of The Times’ descent to mediocrity in arts coverage.
— Frank Kurt (@FrankKurt8) January 29, 2019
The Julie Andrews character is being lambasted because is one scene her face has soot on it from a chimney and is being deemed to be blackface, The Daily Mail reported.
The scene in which Poppins joins Dick Van Dyke’s Bert and his fellow sweeps on a rooftop for the song Step In Time is one of the best-loved moments in the 1964 Disney classic.
But writing in the New York Times under the headline ‘Mary Poppins, and a Nanny’s Shameful Flirting With Blackface,’ Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner attacks the scene. Not surprisingly, the film’s legions of devoted fans have reacted with disbelief.
The literature professor acknowledges that Poppins’s face is covered with soot because she has gone up the chimney with her charges, Michael and Jane Banks.
But he writes: ‘Her face gets covered with soot, but instead of wiping it off, she gamely powders her nose and cheeks and gets even blacker.’
He also links the scene to racism in the books by PL Travers, particularly in the 1943 novel Mary Poppins Opens The Door when a housemaid screams at a sweep: ‘Don’t touch me, you black heathen.’
He writes: ‘The 1964 film replays this racial panic in a farcical key. When the dark figures of the chimney sweeps 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.’
Extraordinarily, Pollack-Pelzner has even found fault with the recently released sequel Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt.
He said he was surprised by the song A Cover Is Not The Book because of its reference to a wealthy widow called Hyacinth Macaw, who wears ‘only a smile’ plus ‘two feathers and a leaf’.