5 Dark Drug Metaphors You Missed In Disney's Mary Poppins
It's no secret that Mary Poppins is kind of a wacked-out acid trip of a movie. The characters leap into paintings and chase penguins around, and there's a lady with a bag with a portal to another dimension in it, and people float and fly, and nearly everybody acts like all this craziness is just another Tuesday.
Julie Andrews' Mary is the focus of all the drugged-out wackiness; her name is the title, after all. But watch the movie again, and this time pay closer attention to Dick Van Dyke's character, Bert. If the whole movie is a secret drug-fueled romp through early-20th-century London, Bert is the dealer -- and that dude is slangin' some fine-ass crystal. And Mary? Why, she is his No. 1 customer.
Sound far-fetched? Well, all the evidence is right there in the movie, beginning with the fact that ...
Bert And Mary Can't Hold Down Jobs
The star of a one-man band, sidewalk artist, chimney sweep, and kite salesman are all self-employed positions. So it's a little odd for a middle-aged man to experiment with each of these four positions in as many days. However, this is exactly what Bert does. He can't possibly be making much from these menial jobs, yet he wants for nothing. He has the care-free attitude of a billionaire who takes up pottery one day and tries out hunting humans for sport the next.
Mary Poppins, on the other hand, seems to have a more solid job history. She's a nanny, and she seems to have been one for a long time. It's mentioned that she never stays with one family for too long, so she's either really good at her job or she's an airborne idiot who's pissed off every one of her former employers. Weird job durations aside, she sounds like a great hire. Her Angie's List reviews would be through the roof, but each would mention her frequent need for days off.
The moment she meets the Banks family, she mentions that she needs every other Tuesday off. Then, only two days into her employment, she tricks Mr. Banks into taking the kids for the day, probably so she could go on a wild meth binge under a magical bridge, or wherever this dangerous loon lives when she isn't feeding drugs to children to get them to sleep.
Weird. For such a stern, studious, and demanding (but ultimately pleasant) person, she sure doesn't want to do her job all that much. It's like she has something deep in her veins that's pulling her away from what she loves, sort of like how addiction causes a neglect of work responsibilities.
These would be easily ignorable outliers in an otherwise straightforward Disney flick, if not for the fact that ...
Mary And Bert Have A Friend Who's Clearly A Drug Addict
Early in the movie, Mary and Bert are called upon to help an interesting character named Uncle Albert, who has a very common problem: He's laughing so uncontrollably that he's floated into the air and gotten stuck on the ceiling. We've all been there.
Mary and Bert rush to Albert's aid, and Mary drags the kids with her because she's just so, so very bad at her job. Sure enough, Albert is laughing and floating like he just chugged a cocktail of the Joker's laughing toxin and Willy Wonka's Fizzy-Lifting drinks. He is, quite literally, high. This scene sets up a metaphor that runs through the rest of the movie: "Laughing" is code for "that good shit that Bert's selling."
Bert does nothing to talk him down, only adding to it by telling Albert jokes to keep him floating, because Bert is an enabler and a goddamn sociopath. Albert is eventually talked down from his high when Mary says it's time to take the kids back home. Uncle Albert gets sad and floats back down to the floor, where he pulls a 180 and sobs violently.
As it happens, certain drugs -- meth, for example -- are known to cause surges of euphoria that can come crashing down in an instant.
While we're on the topic of meth: It might be worth mentioning that it can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked. Mary Poppins knows that, and she even sings about it in this scene's musical number, "I Love To Laugh":
Some people laugh through their noses
Some people laugh through their teeth, goodness sakes.
After the babysitter goes over the various ways in which a person could become a walking "Faces Of Meth" poster, her trusty sidekick Bert pipes up and explains the concept of binging to further account for exactly what's happening to Albert:
Some laugh too fast
Some only blast -- ha!
Although Mary is not at all impressed by what happened at Uncle Albert's house, she still promises the children that she'll bring them back to see him again soon, because what kid can resist a second visit to a tweaker's meth den?
Mary's Got Some Wild Mood Swings
At first, Mary Poppins is a fun, firm -- if somewhat manipulative -- cross between the caretaker the children want and the disciplinarian their father knows they need. She catches the children's interest early with her seemingly bottomless bag and uses magic as a metaphor for making the things you don't want to do more enjoyable.
Though, as the film goes on, she changes in subtle, unsettling ways. She becomes more erratic and careless with the kids.
She even threatens to call the police when the children talk about the day's events:
Jane: Oh, we couldn't possibly go to sleep! So many lovely things have happened today.
Mary Poppins: Did they?
Jane: Yes! When we jumped into Bert's chalk picture.
Michael: And we rode the merry-go-round, and all the horses jumped off, and-
Jane: And we all went riding in the countryside!
Jane & Michael: Tally ho! Tchunga! Tchunga! Yikes!
Mary Poppins: Really?
Jane: Mary Poppins, don't you remember? You won the horse race!
Mary Poppins: A respectable person like me in a horse race? How dare you suggest such a thing?
Michael: But I saw you do it!
Mary Poppins: Now, not another word or I shall have to summon the policeman. Is that clear?
It's unclear whether she actually can't remember what happened that day or if this is her subtle way of threatening the kids into not narcing on her ass.
Either way, drugs. Confusion, memory loss, paranoia, anxiety/nervousness, secretive behavior, mood swings, and changes in personality have all been linked to drug use. In fact, most of those symptoms can be attributed to meth.
She also begins to walk funny, say silly words, and refuses to explain herself in situations that would absolutely require an explanation. Look at this druggie's petulant meth logic run wild like a wolf under the midnight moon after Mr. Banks finds a gaggle of filthy chimney sweeps dancing in his house:
Mr. Banks: Just a moment, Mary Poppins. What is the meaning of this outrage?
Mary Poppins: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Banks: Will you be good enough to explain all this?
Mary Poppins: First of all, I would like to make one thing quite clear.
Mr. Banks: Yes?
Mary Poppins: I never explain anything.
That's the kind of response that leads to her being thrown out of the house and her throwing a brick back into it.
Mary And Bert Go On A Creepy Date
In the iconic scene when Mary and her drugged-up posse hop into one of Bert's chalk drawings, she and Bert sing a duet called "Jolly Holiday," a happy tune about how they enjoy each other's company, as the kids run off to a fantastical fair. Seems pleasant enough. Surely there's nothing wrong here. Let's read a little of Mary's lyrics and bask in the pleasantness:
Oh, it's a jolly holiday with you, Bert
Gentlemen like you are few
Though you're just a diamond in the rough, Bert
Underneath your blood is blue!
You'd never think of pressing your advantage
Forbearance is the hallmark of your creed
A lady needn't fear when you are near
Your sweet gentility is crystal clear!
Oh, it's a jolly holiday with you, Bert
A jolly, jolly holiday with you!
All right. Well. Did anyone else feel a little put off when she mentions Bert not "pressing his advantage" and talking about forbearance and how "a lady needn't fear" when he's around? In song, Mary Poppins tells us she's super thankful Bert isn't a rapist. Out of nowhere. Which leads to the question: Were we supposed to think he was a rapist?
Leaving the kids to go on a little date with Bert was about as responsible as leaving them in the care of a hungry wood chipper, but it could very well have been drug-seeking behavior. Neglecting responsibilities, as mentioned before, is a sign of potential drug abuse.
When Mary Poppins and the children get home, Mary gives them some medicine -- and takes a little sip of her own -- even though absolutely no one is sick. Everyone quickly falls asleep ... except Mary. We never do see Mary fall asleep. Then again, meth causes insomnia. So while the kids are fast asleep, Mary Poppins is rattling in her giant dresses, trying to figure out how she's going to score her next fix.
Everyone Gets High As A Kite
At the end of the movie, Bert is selling kites in a park, presumably in an effort to launder his drug profits. Of course, a kite is an odd choice for a product to sell. Who goes to the park to fly a kite without bringing a kite? Did people impulse-buy kites back then? The early 1900s were a magical time when kites were the peak of excitement. Before that, people had to oooh and aaah at dirty newspaper pages swirling in the wind.
Anyway, Bert's selling "kites" in the park, where it just so happens that Mr. Banks' former employers are all hanging out. These are the creepy no-nonsense bankers in top hats and three-piece suits with coattails that once tried to steal Mr. Banks' son's money out of his hands. They're New Yorker cartoons about greedy Wall Street fat cats come to life. Add on top of that the fact that they're supposedly grieving the death of their boss -- for one of them that boss was also his father -- who died, at most, an hour earlier. By all rights, they should be the Earth's epicenter for cataclysmic dickishness right now, and for once it would be excused. Have them take turns slapping the kids as the credits roll. Perfectly understandable from a character perspective. But no. Instead ...
They're flying kites. Bert's kites. That guy in the front? That's the guy whose father died only hours earlier. He tells Mr. Banks that his father "died laughing" at a joke he was told by Banks, thus leaving Mr. Banks an opening to step in as a partner. Mr. Banks heard the joke from his son Michael, who heard it from Bert when he was getting Uncle Albert high as shit. Bert's product indirectly killed Mr. Banks' boss.
It's like Final Destination meets Requiem For A Dream, as transcribed from the de-thawed nightmares of Walt Disney's frozen head.
For more messed up children's flicks, check out 7 Horrifying Moments from Classic Kids Movies and 6 Kids Movies Clearly Made by People Who Hate Children.
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