Mary Poppins takes place in London England, the homeland of monarchial crapulence and Big Ben (an obvious symbol for the eternity of the phallus).
The story centers around the Banks’, a quite possibly the first dysfunctional family in classic literature. Mr. Banks is a banker, clearly a significant career, symbolizing the control men exert over the financial status and welfare of society. His position at the bank is meant to show the reader/viewer that the world, especially the world of 1910, was most definitely a man’s world, run, dominated, and ultimately destroyed by the penis-driven male ego.
Mrs. Banks is a women’s rights activist, pushing for the right to vote with meaningless demonstrations and pickets. This is a clear cry for release from the domineering and abusive relationship with Mr. Banks. The quick, almost physical change from firey suffragette to cowering housewife in the presence of her horribly imperialistic husband is painfully obvious.
The children, Jane and Michael, sheltered and apparently physically and emotionally abused penis-creations, are the main focus of the story. They are the Banks’ trophy babies, and therefore both spoiled with the things of Power, money and “proper” upbringing, as well as horribly neglected with concern to there emotional well being. Love of the all mighty dollar keeps their father away from them, while mommy is too busy with her empty political concerns.
Both children are more than likely being sexually molested by their father, who likely gets a paternal power-trip from the touching of his son and daughter in the same way his father surely touched him and “loved” him on piles of coins.
It becomes clear early in the story that the children have become miscreants due to the low self-esteem they each have on account of the less-than-healthy home life. In one of the opening scenes, we see the family nanny in a slight huff. She is consternated by the children’s final attempt to run away and leave the horrors of home, as well as their addiction to marijuana. The children state that they were “Flying a kite,” the 1910 England equivalent of “Tripping the Light Fandango.” The kite “Broke its string and got away,” that is to say that the friendly neighborhood constable found the children with their doobies and agreed not to inform their parents if they performed certain grotesque sexual favors for him.
While writing an ad for a new nanny, the children configure a “Weird Science” supernanny, embodying all ideals of a heterosexual Aryan caregiver, a far cry from the lesbian Jew cook and maid.
Enter Bert; slightly out of order but significant nonetheless. Bert is an unemployed gentleman who sees fit to lead the life of a vagrant, taking any job he can find at any price. Aside from chimney sweeping and screebing, it is likely that Bert is a pickpocket and gigolo. His one-man band apparatus is a pre-Beatles attempt at drug-induced musical creativity. The components are likely from parts stolen from unsuspecting children. However let’s stay on the subject…
Bert is what one might call a “Jack of all Trades,” which essentially means that his failures in every aspect of life including work and school have driven him to a hatred of society which has resulted in him being what popular culture of the time would dub as a “bum.”
Bert is also more than likely involved in numerous illegal activities, including but not limited to pimping, drug use/sales, statutory rape, and arson, to name a few.
As the story continues, we are introduced to the title role of Mary Poppins. Poppins is the answer to the Banks children’s ad for a caretaker. She comes drifting onto the scene on a rather mushroom-shaped umbrella (get it?), and immediately begins turning the Banks’ house upside down. She quickly puts Mr. Banks in his place, showing him that his penis is not his royal scepter.
As soon as Poppins meets the children, she begins to undermine their pater’s authority, and forces them to alter the natural comfort level of their room by cleaning up the “mess.”
She then proceeds to sing a little ditty about a “spoonful of sugar” helping the “medicine” go down. This is a crystal clear metaphor for heroine use helping to take the bitter “pill” of life. The kids are soon on an outing with their new nanny, going out to the local park to see Bert vandalizing the sidewalks, and then enter one of his portraits, or at least have the hallucination of this.
There the children are introduced to the addictive habit of gambling on horse races, hunting down and killing one of God’s most beautiful creatures, and are taught an interesting word, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It remains unclear as to whether this is a slang term for hallucinogenic drugs or some type of code for doing the drugs themselves.
Later on in the story, Mary Poppins seems to converse with the neighborhood dog Andrew, almost as if something had made her closer to nature…hmm. At any rate, she is led to a mutual friend of hers and Bert’s, who is drifting up around the ceiling, quite high up (ahem). In this house we learn that being “high” is a fun and uplifting experience, while “coming down” is indicative of depression and sorrow.
Poppins soon, through a cunning and clever manipulation, convinces Mr. Banks to take his offspring to his job with him. He takes them to the bank to learn about the all-controlling dollar, and how money is used to oppress the natives in all the British colonies.
When the bank president tries to steal money from the children, they run away, having just been taught that money is more important than anything, including their father’s dignity and their own safety. While the children run home, we are given a tour of the London ghetto, complete with all the individuals who make up society'’ bottom rung.
We are again faced with drug parallels as the children, Bert, and Poppins pop through a chimney (the symbolism of which is all to clear) to play with smoke on rooftops. I am reminded of a friend who “played with smoke” on the roof of the local Taco Bell after hours. They too saw many colorful light shows.
The song and dance routine “Step in Time” is a clear symbol of conformity.
At the end of our story, we find the family flying a kite and portraying a “Leave it to Beaver” style nuclear family ideal.
Through splendid analogies and lots of pretty colors, Pam Travers has written a masterful work on the sexual themes and severe hallucinogenic drug use prevalent in 1910 English society. Disney, himself a Nazi and underground heroin smuggler, portrayed this work on screen in such a way as to amuse young and old and hippie alike.