Mary Poppins Was Always A Jerk, Here's The Proof
We all grew up with the wonder of Mary Poppins, the beloved story of a magical nanny who teaches children the importance of imagination, respect, and toppling capitalism through violent rebellion. Now, more than 50 years after the original movie, Disney is bestowing a sequel upon the world. Mary Poppins Returns finds the titular character visiting an adult widower Michael Banks -- whom you have to imagine is probably more than a little miffed that she's cool to pop by and use her godlike powers to clean up a mess of toys, but not to, say, save his wife.
This may seem a bit odd, but when you revisit the the classic film as an adult, one thing is alarmingly clear: Mary Poppins is kind of a jerk. Seriously, watch it again.
The movie follows Mary making one dick move after another without consequences. For starters, how does she even get the nanny gig at the Banks house in the first place? She uses her magic to blow her competition right off the goddamn sidewalk.
To be clear, these are elderly women being launched into the sky, and we never see them land. So unless a nearby pillow factory happens to be having its roof replaced that day, they're probably all dead. Mary Poppins then gently floats to the ground, and as the only applicant, she claims the job for herself.
Even beyond the cheating and possible homicide, Mary is a pretty lousy childcare provider. Sure, she has a magical suitcase filled with lamps, but would you want her looking after your kids? On her first day on the job, she takes the kids to the park -- not so they can play, but so she can visit her filthy vagrant pal, Bert. Some have theorized that Mary used to nanny Bert when he was a child, though the movie certainly implies a romantic past (or, worst-case scenario, it's both). So basically, she drags the kids to visit her hobo ex-boyfriend on her very first day. Then they all magically hop into a cartoon fantasy world where Bert and Mary have lunch together. Notice anything weird?
Where are the damn kids? Take the magic out of the equation for a moment, and imagine a nanny ditching two young kids in a public park so she could share a meal with some random dick (Van Dyke). Even crazier, when they all get home that night, Mary totally gaslights the kids for no apparent reason, refusing to admit that any of the day's events actually happened! It's as if her powers are generated by the confusion and fear of children, and she needed to recharge.
We guess the "I'm The Only One You Can Trust" song never left the editing room.
Later, Mary takes Jane and Michael on a tour of London's rooftops, which is a good place to work on your parkour, but a terrible place to bring two children. Afterward, Mary invites dozens of soot-encrusted chimney-sweeping strangers into the Banks house to sing, dance, and generally trash the place like an Edwardian-era Led Zeppelin. Michael and Jane's dad comes home and gets super pissed -- not because he's an emotionally withdrawn curmudgeon, as the movie would have us believe, but because that's how anyone would react upon finding a gang of filthy lunatics desecrating their living room.
Perhaps most appalling is the ending. A contemplative Mr. Banks embarks on an all-night walk, eventually coming to the conclusion that he should spend more time with his children. But since this was before the age of cellphones and considering other people's feelings, he doesn't tell a single person where he's gone.
In the morning, Mr. Banks still isn't back, which understandably worries his family. Mary Poppins, on the other hand, somehow seems to know that he's had an emotional breakthrough and is not dead in a gutter somewhere. Not only does she not share that information, but she also abruptly announces that she's leaving forever and hurriedly starts packing her stuff. Meanwhile, the children are still freaking out that their dad is missing, making her sudden departure all the more heartless. This scene goes even darker when the house's staff, and even the police, begin to theorize that Mr. Banks probably committed suicide, suggesting they "drag the river." Yet Mary Poppins still thinks this would be the best time to bail on those poor kids.
Seriously, you couldn't even offer some parting words to two small children who you've been caring for? You live on a goddamn cloud, what's the rush? It's a good thing the field of psychoanalysis kicked in right before the events of this movie, because those kids are probably going to need a spoonful of therapy after all of this shit.
Of course, Mary Poppins is still a great movie. It features wonderful performances, groundbreaking special effects, and the music is straight-up brilliant. But remember, for every whimsical song filled with wacky made-up words, there's at least one scene of Mary Poppins inexplicably violating child abuse laws.
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