American academic brands Mary Poppins 'racist' because of chimney sweep scene

4 February 2019, 12:18

Mary Poppins has come under fire for 'racism'
Mary Poppins has come under fire for 'racism'. Picture: Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock

The university professor claims that the chimney sweep appearances have a darker, offensive meaning.

One of Disney's most loved movies, Mary Poppins, has come under fire for being 'racist' by an American academic.

The 1964 film which stars Julie Andrews as the title character with Dick Van Dyke playing loveable chimney sweep Bert.

But the chimney sweep characters have come under fire after Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, an English and gender studies professor based in Oregon, claimed that their particular scene was racist.

Read more: Mary Poppins star Dick Van Dyke FINALLY explains that dodgy cockney accent

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He says that the scene where they appear with blackened faces is linked to a racially discriminatory reference in the original books by author PL Travers.

In an article published in the New York Times he said:"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."

"When the dark figures of the chimney sweeps Step in Time on a roof and a naval buffoon, Admiral Boom shouts, we’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface."

An American academic has spoken our against the 1964 film
An American academic has spoken our against the 1964 film. Picture: Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock

Unsurprisingly many fans of the Disney film and its recent sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, have lashed out at the claims on Twitter.

Disney have so far yet to comment on the claims by Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner.