Monday, February 04, 2019

Mary Poppins branded racist by US academic - for 'blacking up' in iconic sweeps' rooftop scene

Dame Julie Andrews’s performance as Mary Poppins is racist, says a US academic who accuses her of ‘blacking up’ when her face is covered with soot as she dances with chimney sweeps.

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’.

In the original 1934 book Mary Poppins, the character is a ‘scantily clad negro lady’ who addressed the nanny in a ‘minstrel dialect.’ The racial references were removed in a 1981 revision of the book.

Fans online have reacted with fury to the professor’s views. One derided the piece as ‘a candidate for the stupidest New York Times article for some time’.



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Anonymous said...

How did that idiot get to be a professor ????

ScienceABC123 said...

People like this would literally have a conniption should they every be present when a shift load of coal miners comes up out of the mine.

Anonymous said...

Another academic buffoon trying to get tenure or promoted by publishing nonsensical ideas.

Bird of Paradise said...

Just another one of those intellectual idiots with a brain so small the kind who walks around like a zombie their eyes forward never look up,down,left or right just walks around with their nose in the NYT's crossing the road with the DON'T WALK signal on

Bill R. said...

I never read the book but I did see the movie numerous times over the years. This professor is way, way out of line. This kind of whining takes away from the few actual cases of racism much like the boy crying wolf. He needs to be censured, marginalized and tossed into the dustbin of history.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"‘a candidate for the stupidest New York Times article for some time’."

And that's impressive; the competition's stiff!

"How did that idiot get to be a professor ????"

The usual way; Spent a number of years fawningly agreeing with older academic drones until they agreed to make him a member of the Lodge. Original thinking hasn't been welcome in Academia for some time. My Father was a Scholar by avocation. He retired in the '90's, before peak stupidity, but he only got away with actual scholarship because they were scared to death of him.

As for this idiot; somebody really needs to clop him with a cleat.

Spurwing Plover the fighting shorebird said...

Liberals are never happy their always finding everything that offends them their all just a whole bunch of total losers