Mary Poppins is apparently no longer ‘suitable for all’.

The Disney classic starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke first aired in December 1964 and is quickly approaching its 60th anniversary.

To mark the occasion, Mary Poppins is being rereleased in UK cinemas next month. With this in mind, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) recently deliberated over the film’s certification.

Originally a ‘U’, the BBFC has since changed it.

U-rated movies are supposed to be ‘suitable for all’, but now the BBFC has changed Mary Poppins to be a PG in the UK (meaning parental guidance) as it has deemed some scenes in the movie as being potentially unsuitable for small children.

The change comes in light of the film’s ‘discriminatory language’.

A BBFC spokesperson explained to UNILAD it was the movie’s use of the discriminatory term ‘hottentots’ that it has found issue with.

The phrase dates back to the 17th century and was used by white people who were referring to the Khoikhoi – the first pastoralists in Southern Africa – and is now seen as offensive.

Admiral Boom uses to the slur twice in the film, which no one in Mary Poppins condemns him for.

Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. Credits: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. Credits: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

In a statement to UNILAD, a BBFC spokesperson said: “We originally classified Mary Poppins U on its release in 1964, and again in 2013 for a theatrical re-release. Most recently, the film was resubmitted to us in February 2024 for another theatrical re-release, and we reclassified it PG for discriminatory language.

Mary Poppins includes two uses of the discriminatory term ‘hottentots’. While Mary Poppins has a historical context, the use of discriminatory language is not condemned, and ultimately exceeds our guidelines for acceptable language at U.

“We therefore classified the film PG for discriminatory language.

“We understand from our racism and discrimination research, and recent classification guidelines research, that a key concern for people, parents in particular, is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence.

“Some language or behaviours are therefore not permitted at U or PG in any circumstance, or are wholly dependent on context. Content with immediate and clear condemnation is more likely to receive a lower rating.”

People have since taken to social media to share their thoughts on the change, with some labelling it as ‘ridiculous’.

Mary Poppins is trending because in 2024 it’s been decided film should be changed from U to PG rating,” someone wrote on X.

“Imagine being the person that thinks Mary Poppins needs parental guidance to be seen. Getting ridiculous so many bigger issues in media that really are affecting childhoods.”
Some people have criticized the change. Credits: X
Some people have criticized the change. Credits: X

Another said: “Pathetic! We are helping children become afraid of their own shadows – the complete opposite to building resilience.”

“The most ridiculous thing I have ever heard,” added a third.

But others didn’t see an issue with the new certification.

One person wrote: “Don’t really think a change from U to PG is that catastrophic.”

“Social standards change. This is normal,” added another.

A different person penned: “There are more things to get angry about in the world than Mary Poppins having the rating changed from ‘U’ to ‘PG’.”

Mary Poppins will return to select UK cinemas on March 29.

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