Mary Poppins Gets Censored Over “Racist” Language

A regulatory board in the United Kingdom announced on Friday that the age rating for the classic 1964 film “Mary Poppins” has been increased, rendering it inappropriate for children.

According to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the film’s use of obscure “derogatory language” requires parental supervision for younger audiences.

In its ruling, the BBFC determined that antiquated racial terms used in the tale of Julie Andrews’ magical nanny exceed the current “U” rating, which indicates a film contains “no material likely to offend or harm.”

The board specifically took issue with Reginald Owen’s Admiral Boom using the word “Hottentot” to describe characters with their faces covered in soot. A lesser-known term in the modern era, “Hottentot” was used by Europeans in the 17th Century to refer to the Khoekhoe, a nomadic group of South African herdsmen, but is now considered a slur against Blacks in general.

“While ‘Mary Poppins’ has a historical context, the use of discriminatory language is not condemned, and ultimately exceeds our guidelines for acceptable language at U,” a BBFC spokesperson told Variety. “We therefore classified the film PG for discriminatory language.”

“We understand from our racism and discrimination research, and recent classification guidelines research, that a key concern for people, parents in particular, is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behavior which they may find distressing or repeat without realizing the potential offense,” the board continued. “Some language or behaviors are therefore not permitted at U or PG in any circumstance, or are wholly dependent on context.”

The scene in question, in which Mary Poppins dances across rooftops with a soot-stained chimney sweep played by Dick Van Dyke, drew previous accusations of “shameful flirting with blackface” from the New York Times in 2019.

The BBFC went on to clarify the criteria for its rating system, explaining that it only revisits or reclassifies older films when they are specifically resubmitted for consideration.

“Mary Poppins” received a U rating upon release in 1964, and that rating was upheld for its theatrical rerelease in 2013. Another theater run scheduled for this year prompted the new rating.

The UK’s Daily Mail provided a breakdown of the seven officials behind the decision—a group that includes former BBC broadcasters, social workers, game developers, and former members of Parliament.

Original article

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