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Unlikely Heroines: Last In A Series

Whenever we get into the analysis of films, I get nervous. And must point out that Campaspe of Self-Styled Siren (link right) is the real film critic in this neighborhood.

But keeter, the one-woman public relations arm of the Comme de Garcons' fragrance series has cornered me.

She has met me IRL and says I'm Mrs. Winifred Banks of the film Mary Poppins. And I'm here to explain my unlikely heroine status.

A scatterbrained but well intentioned member of the suffragette movement, I seem to neglect my children (hey! I got them a flying Nanny, for heaven's sake. And, erm, I don't have any children. Except Bucky.) for my duties on behalf of women's rights.

I am often seen about town in a blue and orange Edwardian-style dress with a white and blue sash that reads "Votes for Women" in black letters. Note that I accessorize with white gloves. Note also that in the film I am blond and buxom. In real life, I am dark haired and buxom.

(No good sash-augmented picture was available; I have substituted something I like better.)

I will now share the good part with you, with shameless coaching from wikipedia:

There exist interpretations of Mary Poppins, including those by structuralist semiologists (? maybe Winterwheat will explain this to us) suggesting the film has a subliminal subtext, intended to prepare America's youth for the political radicalism of the 1960s.

These analyses point to radical themes addressed in the film, including:

  • women's suffrage
  • the homeless
  • animal rights
  • mockery of militarism
  • anti-capitalism

The children's list of requirements for a new nanny can be viewed as a political manifesto and Mary Poppins as an anarchist mentor, who consorts with chimney sweep Bert and his friends, reps of the blighted urban proletariat, in an Imperialism-fattened London in its final days before World War I. (I would love to meet whoever wrote this, and look in his/her medicine cabinet.)

At film's end, however, in an unexpected switcharound, my heroism emerges in counterpoint to the progressive theory put forward by the chemically enhanced semiologists (?).

I throw away my suffragist banner -- once more a good wife and mother -- and join my family in a kite-flying get-together.

I have forsaken all that women's lib nonsense, come to my senses and once again propound an appropriate message, the conservative ideal.

Far from being an anarchist, Mary Poppins is arguably a savior-figure, sent to rescue the nuclear family from itself.

Ok, keeter. There's Mrs. Banks. Pretty cool, huh?


Blogger Trina said...

Another excellent installment!

Have you ever read anything by or about Elizabeth Cady Stanton? She was one of the main figures in the women's suffrage movement, and an incredibly intelligent woman! Many people think Susan B. Anthony was more or less the mouthpiece for Stanton's ideologies and writings.

Gak! Didn't mean to blather, but you touched on a topic that's been interesting me lately. Thanks for helping us get our right to vote, Mrs. Banks! You rock!

4:01 AM

Blogger actonbell said...

I keep meaning to read more on this topic. Thanks, Mrs. Banks:)

11:09 AM

Anonymous keeter said...

We're clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for woman's votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they're rather stupid!

Cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Our daughters' daughters will adore us
And they'll sing in grateful chorus
"Well done, Sister Suffragette!"

The London stage version of Mary Poppins has a new song called "Being Mrs. Banks" that is rumored to bring depth and meaning to the character. Pshaw, I say! What could *be* more profound than inspiring Bert the Chimney Sweeper and his Proletariat Army to sing "Votes for Women! Step in Time!" I'm telling you, wear the sash to paralegal school and watch a major sociopolitical movement happen. The semiologists are on to something!

6:32 PM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Thanks Ms. Banks. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was very important to us.

Thank you to all the great women who stood up and fought for what we have today.

7:53 PM

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

I love Mrs. Banks. I've seen Mary Poppins about 5000 times of course because my kids loved it too. I could blab on forever but I think your comments from wikepedia and keeter's summation cover it beautifully.
Great Post!

8:18 AM


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