Mary Poppins' UK Age Rating Upped to PG Over Offensive Language
Mary Poppins' UK Age Rating Upped to PG Over Offensive Language

Mary Poppins, the beloved classic, has undergone a change in its age rating, transitioning from a U (suitable for all) to a PG (parental guidance suggested) classification by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), nearly six decades after its initial release.

The alteration in rating stems from the usage of discriminatory language within the film, as reported by the Daily Mail. Specifically, attention was drawn to a term derogatory to the Khoikhoi people, an indigenous group from southern Africa, used by the character Admiral Boom.

This shift in classification reflects the BBFC’s acknowledgment of concerns regarding exposure to offensive language or behavior, particularly among children, as highlighted by their spokesperson’s statement to the Mail. The BBFC emphasized the importance of condemning such content explicitly, a factor that influences the assigned rating.

The revised rating applies solely to the theatrical release of the film, with home entertainment versions retaining the U rating. The contentious term in question, “Hottentot,” historically used by Dutch settlers to refer to the Khoikhoi people, is deemed offensive due to its derogatory connotations and subsequent use in reference to black individuals.

Rating Revision: Mary Poppins and Evolving Standards

Mary Poppins joins a list of classic films subjected to rating revisions in recent years. Watership Down, the 1978 animated film, received a PG rating, primarily due to scenes depicting violence, as per the BBFC’s 2022 annual report. Similarly, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) saw its rating upgraded from U to PG, attributed to mild language, violence, and threat.

The BBFC’s classification process considers various factors, including depictions of dangerous behavior, discrimination, drug references, and sexual content. Discriminatory language or behavior is scrutinized closely, deemed unacceptable unless clearly contextualized or disapproved of within the film’s narrative or historical context.

In essence, the reclassification of Mary Poppins underscores evolving societal standards and the BBFC’s commitment to ensuring appropriate content classification, particularly concerning language and portrayal of sensitive subjects.

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