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Mary Poppins was a commie

I was four when Mary Poppins was released, and I was obsessed with it. I made my mother take me to see it, like, five times — and I might have gotten a sixth out of her, if I hadn’t made the grandmama of all mother/daughter faux pas.

“Mother,” I asked dreamily, “if you died, what are the chances Papa would marry Julie Andrews?”


Oh, don’t worry. I paid. Yes, I did.


I watched Mary Poppins again last week, and it…really, really doesn’t hold up. The special effects are horrible, the dream sequence in the middle is long and boring and…I didn’t remember it as an anti-capitalist message movie. Three years before the Summer of Love, while the Beatles were singing I Wanna Hold Your Hand, the movie gives off a definite whiff of “fuck this Victorian work ethic shit — let’s get high and fly kites.”

Take the tuppence sequence, where Michael’s father and Mary P offer competing visions of what a little boy could do with two pennies.

Mister Banks the banker advises him to put it in the bank (ooooh…subtle):

You see, Michael, you’ll be part of
Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea

Mary Poppins offers him a bag of crumbs.

See…even at four, I wasn’t sure Michael chose well.

Many years later, I lived the tuppence-a-bag experience, sitting in London’s Victoria Station flipping bits of my sandwich to the pigeons. “Technically,” Uncle B told me, “those are vermin. You could get arrested if anybody sees you doing that.”

Everything looks sparklier in the movies.

Anyhow, the point is, bad ideas are like bad diseases — you usually have to go WAY back further in time than you think to find Patient Zero.

sock it to me

July 12, 2010 — 10:37 pm
Comments: 65