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Something quite atrocious: Now Mary Poppins 'racist'

Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews with soot on their faces in Disney’s “Mary Poppins”

You may never see the 1964 film “Mary Poppins” on television again – now that the New York Times has labeled it racist.

In a piece for the paper by Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, criticizes one of the film’s iconic moments, when Mary Poppins joins Dick Van Dyke’s Bert to dance on a rooftop for the classic song “Step in Time.”

He writes: “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.”

Julie Andrews applying soot to her face in “Mary Poppins” (courtesy Disney)

Even Times readers were skeptical about the claim.

One wrote online: “I think this is a reach. She was friends with a chimney sweep. When she went out and danced with him she got soot on her face if I recall this correctly.”

Another wrote: “Mary Poppins wasn’t flirting with black face! It was soot in their faces from being a chimney!!!”

Author Mr. Pollack-Pelzner posted online after his article was published: “The chief reason I wrote this article was the hope that a Disney exec would read it, take another look at the forthcoming Dumbo remake, and ask if there was anything just a little bit racist they might want to rethink before it hits the big screen.”

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