Let’s get one thing straight: I love “Mary Poppins.” As a kid it was one of my favorites, even though I was terrified of the scary old men in the bank. (Come to think of it, I’m still terrified of scary old men in banks) But now that I have a kid, one who’s completely obsessed with all things Mary Poppins, I’ve…. noticed some things.
Being a grown up blows.
The Suffragette is Embarrassing Us
Remember the mom, who sweeps in and immediately starts singing about “fighting for our rights militantly”? She even calls out Emmeline Pankhurst, while showing off her underwear!
Basically, she’s very silly and very rad, and when I was older and learned about the Suffragettes I was super juiced that one of my childhood characters had been such a cool role model.
Except. Oh dear. Except.
Except she proceeds to do everything her husband tells her to do, while looking at him adoringly. Even when she disagrees with him, muttering, “After all, they’re only children,” she does it under her breath, and obviously doesn’t expect to be taken into account. SHE EVEN HIDES THE GOD DAMNED VOTES FOR WOMEN SASHES BEFORE HE GETS HOME.
Look, I get it. I’m reading too much into a generally comic character. But seriously Disney, if you’re going involve her in the women’s rights movement, can’t you at least follow through?
It’s a Jolly Holiday With No Sexual Assault?
Mary Poppins wants to extol the virtues of going on holiday with Bert. Fantastic! I want to go on holiday with Dick van Dyke too!
And so she sings:
Wait. Seriously? The reason he’s so great is that he won’t take advantage of you? You’re literally telling us that you’re excited that you’re not afraid of him? Why are we not just, you know, assuming you’ll be safe while in a parallel universe sidewalk chalk drawing of a fantasy countryside?
Huh. Just re-read that. Okay, so maybe she has a point.
The Industrial Revolution Was Not For Dancing
Come on you guys, do we really need to go over this? The black fogs of London weren’t just fog. They were horrifying billowing clouds of pollution that killed at least 268 people in one year. The chimney sweeps might have been dancing on rooftops at the age of 18, but by 35 they were probably barely able to catch their breath, thanks to all the Black Lung they got from inhaling so much coal dust.
But you’re right. You should definitely powder your nose with it.
Financial Security Isn’t So Bad
The moral of the story is that you should love your kids more than work, and that flying a kite is more fun than investment banking. Which, I mean, yeah, I’m pretty sure a swift kick in the crotch is more fun than investment banking. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to cause a run on the bank, and possible collapse for the entire financial system of London.
Yeah, remember when Jane and Michael accidentally set off a financial crisis? Those wacky scamps!
Then, later, their dad essentially throws his entire career away, and those scary old bankers punch through his hat.
It works out all right in the end, literally because he kills a man (but it’s okay, because he died laughing?), and he gets his job back, but for a little while there the entire family was basically screwed. That nice big house, with the lovable servants and the weird canon-wielding neighbor? How are you going to keep that up when dad has been blackballed out of the financial sector, and mom’s only marketable talents are marching and batting her eyelashes?
It’s one thing to figure out your priorities in life, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of driving your family to homelessness and ruin.
And then Mary Poppins decides to book it as soon as she hears that he lost his job, presumably because they can’t pay her any more. WHY DOES NO ONE NOTICE THIS?!
Basically, this movie would have been a tragedy if it weren’t for a last minute deus ex machina save from the great minds at Disney.
But All Is Not Lost
Luckily, there are some truths in the world, that last all the way through adulthood.
- Dancing with cartoon penguins is always a good idea.
- So is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
- Julie Andrews is – and I mean this in all sincerity – the best.