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26th Feb 2024

Mary Poppins age rating increased over ‘discriminatory language’

Charlie Herbert

mary poppins

Mary Poppins has had its age rating raised due to ‘discriminatory language’, according to reports.

The classic musical was released six decades ago and stars Julie Andrews as the magical nanny Mary Poppins, who looks after the children of a wealthy London family.

Since its release, the much-loved family favourite has had a U (universal) rating meaning that it is suitable for all ages to watch.

However, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has decided to raise this to a PG (parental guidance) rating due to ‘discriminatory language’ in the film.

The BBFC website describes the film as having a “few scary moments” which are “quickly resolved,” and says the tone is “light and fun.”

The Mail Online reports that the age rating upgrade was a recent move and is down to the film’s use of the Dutch term ‘Hottentots.’

This is a racially loaded term originally used by white Europeans in the 1600s to describe the Khoekhoe, a nomadic indigenous population of South Africa.

The Khoikhoi are thought to be one of the oldest people in the world, but were driven from their land by Dutch colonialists, with may dispossessed, killed or enslaved.

Admiral Boom uses ‘discriminatory language’ on two occasions in Mary Poppins

In Mary Poppins, the character Admiral Boom uses the word on two occasions, in direct reference to the Khoikhoi people.

In one instance, he asks one of the Banks children whether they are off to “fight” them.

Later in the film, the character, played by Reginald Owen, sees chimney sweeps with their faces blackened by soot and says we’re being “attacked” by them. He then aims fireworks at the sweeps.

The BBFC said in a statement that the historical context had been considered, but that the age rating was increased because the language is not condemned in the film.

They 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.

“Content with immediate and clear condemnation is more likely to receive a lower rating.”

Related links:

Antiques Roadshow expert refuses to value item because of distressing history

James Bond films now have trigger warnings as they ‘will cause offence today’

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Mary Poppins

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