Social media has been percolating after a top academic has branded Walt Disney’s classic 1964 film “Mary Poppins” as racist because it promotes “blackface” in the famous chimney sweeping scene.
In a commentary that first appeared in the New York Times, Linfield College literature professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner writes that Mary Poppins “blacks up” when her face is covered in soot. And rather than wiping it off, she proceeds to cover her face with even more and dances with Bert and his children on the rooftop.
Pollack-Pelzer says that the scene involving Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke may appear harmless. But he says it actually contains dark, racially-motivated undertones.
“We’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface,” Pelzner writes. He calls the scene a “parody of black menace.”
Pollack-Pelzner doesn’t stop there:
“One of the more indelible images from the 1964 film is of Mary Poppins blacking up. When the magical nanny (played by Julie Andrews) accompanies her young charges, Michael and Jane Banks, up their chimney, her face gets covered in soot, but instead of wiping it off, she gamely powders her nose and cheeks even blacker. Then she leads the children on a dancing exploration of London rooftops with Dick Van Dyke’s sooty chimney sweep, Bert.”
The response on social media was quick and unsparing.
— Garvera (@Sherri_Garver) February 5, 2019
End of the world when Hollywood thinks Mary Poppins is racist
— Amanda Eliasch nickname The Countess Ratbag (@amandaeliasch) February 4, 2019
Your article is ABSURD. You don't get to say what's racist for black people. You should be ashamed of yourself for this. Blackface is hurtful enough without the likes of you trying to make Mary Poppins fit the narrative. No! Just NO!
— Moonbeam's Child (@angeldulce) February 5, 2019
Imagine being a college prof and your claim to fame is an op-ed claiming Mary Poppins is racist because her face was dirtied. That’s truly laughable. @pollackpelzner
— SHEENSTRADAMUS (@scheanwald) February 5, 2019
What do you think? Is Mary Poppins racist?