British Film Board Reclassifies Classic “Mary Poppins” Movie As “Unsuitable For Children”

Mary Poppins has been deemed potentially unsuitable for children.

That’s the verdict of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which last week increased the age rating on the Julie Andrews classic because it contains “discriminatory language.”

Mary Poppins is being re-released in select UK cinemas next month to celebrate the film’s 60th anniversary, prompting BBFC to upgrade its classification for the first time since 1964.

The iconic story has gone from being U-rated, meaning it contains no material likely to offend or harm, to PG (parental guidance), meaning some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.

The BBFC said this was due to “discriminatory language.” It did not specify the language in question, but the Daily Mail newspaper reported that the warning refers to the movie’s use of the word Hottentots.

Now regarded as racially insensitive, the word was used by Europeans to refer to the Khoekhoe, a group of nomadic herders in South Africa.

Reginald Owen’s Admiral Boom utters the slur twice in Mary Poppins, including using it to describe chimney sweeps, whose faces are blackened with soot.

The BBFC has been contacted for comment. It told the Mail that a lack of condemnation for the admiral’s language was considered to be a reason for raising the age limit.

The organization said: “We understand from our racism and discrimination research… that a key concern for… parents is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence.”

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