TIME Culture

Mary Poppins Was the Original Disney Feminist

Chim Chiminey
Dick Van Dyke as Bert, Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, Karen Dotrice as Jane Banks and Matthew Garber as Michael Banks in the Disney musical 'Mary Poppins.' Silver Screen Collection—Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Fifty years after Julie Andrews starred as that practically perfect nanny, the character is still a role model for young women

Like all Disney movies, Mary Poppins is full of whimsy and adventure, good guys and, if not bad guys, at least shades-of-grey guys.

And as we celebrate the film today, on its fiftieth anniversary, let’s not forget its feminist perspective.

At the center of it all is Mary Poppins, a no-nonsense nanny who gets the nursery cleaned and the medicine down. Yes, she works in a feminine profession, but with her impeccable negotiation skills, she’s an inspiration to the modern childcare economy—the average worker made only $19,510 per year in 2012. She’s gentle with the children, but firm enough to subvert the stereotype of woman as nurturer-and-nothing-else. She’s a balanced female character, full of good manners and grace but also judgmental about others’ laughter styles, and she’s a master of reverse psychology. She seems to have a gentleman friend in Bert, the chimney sweep and street artist played by Dick Van Dyke, but they are not exclusive, as he hints in “Jolly Holiday,” and she certainly doesn’t take him into consideration when it’s time to pack up and move on to her next gig. Plus, she’s magic!

Psychoanalysis of the liberated Ms. Poppins aside, the movie had a strong message for its 1964 audiences. That year, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banned employment discrimination on the basis of sex; Roe v. Wade was still nine years away. Watching Mrs. Banks, played by the incomparable Glynis Johns, parade through the movie’s London townhouse singing about women’s suffrage was a reminder to American audiences that there was still a long way to go. “We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats,” she sings in the first song of the movie. “And dauntless crusaders for women’s votes…Our daughters’ daughters will adore us, and they’ll sing in grateful chorus, ‘Well done, Sister Suffragette!”

If Mrs. Banks is the voice of progress, her husband Mr. Banks is the voice of tradition. A straight-laced banker, he expresses his own worldview in the movie’s second song, “The Life I Lead:”

It’s grand to be an Englishman in 1910

King Edward’s on the throne, it’s the age of men

I’m the lord of my castle, the sovereign, the liege

I treat my subjects, servants, children, wife, with a firm but gentle hand—noblesse oblige

This patriarchal perspective can’t stand up to the organized mayhem Ms. Poppins brings into his home. Young Michael Banks wants to buy birdseed from the bird woman his nanny has told him about, but his father wants him to invest his tuppence in the bank. The boy tries to get his money bank, confusing other customers and causing a run on the bank—a sign of social upheaval if ever there was one! All this challenge to the status quo (plus his newfound unemployment) causes Mr. Banks to reconsider his narrow stance on power and order. In a reprise of his earlier melody, he sings:

My world was calm, well ordered, exemplary

Then came this person with chaos in her wake

And now my life’s ambitions go, with one fell blow

It’s quite a bitter pill to take

With a little help from Bert, who’s well-versed in reverse psychology himself, Mr. Banks puts the pieces of his repressive puzzle together—or rather, pulls them apart—and ends the movie enlightened and unburdened, finally bonding with his children as they fly a kite together. Ms. Poppins takes flight herself, on to the next household that needs saving from authoritarian ideology.

Well done, indeed, Sister Suffragette. Elsa of Arendelle has nothing on you.

TIME Television

Netflix Only Took Home 7 Emmys After All

Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. Evan Agostini—Invision/AP

Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards didn't snag a ton of awards — but hey, they'll always have the nominations

Seth Meyers couldn’t stop joking about Netflix and cable shows outperforming network television at the Emmys — but the streaming service-cum-network didn’t quite make the splash that some expected at this year’s award ceremony.

Clocking in at 31 nominations (including 13 for House of Cards and 12 for Orange Is the New Black), Netflix went home with just seven statuettes, all of them won in the Creative Arts session, which are given out ahead of time instead of during the NBC broadcast. Uzo Aduba was the only actor to be recognized, for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange Is the New Black.

Here’s the full list of all the awards Netflix won this year. Next year, they’ll just have to inject some of that Frank Underwood ruthlessness to up their game.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black

Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series: Orange Is the New Black

Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming: The Square

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Orange Is the New Black

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour): House of Cards

Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming: The Square

Outstanding Direction for Nonfiction Programming: The Square

 

TIME Television

Sofia Vergara Was Literally Put on a Pedestal in a Completely Sexist Bit at the Emmys

"That's why I stopped doing the car shows!"

+ READ ARTICLE

At the Emmy Awards, Modern Family star Sofia Vergara introduced Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Flatly, she said it had always been her dream to come to America to do such a thing on stage — but like so many American dreams, it soured on the vine. Rosenblum asked Vergara to step onto a pedestal that then rotated 360 degrees, showing off the Latina star’s famous curves while he talked about the state of the television industry.

Vergara played along dutifully, striking attractive poses after an initial awkward moment. Though the gimmick might have turned into a commentary on how Hollywood actresses are hypersexualized and objectified, the second beat of the joke never came. Instead, it ended with a straight-up justification for the sex-sells mentality: “What truly matters,” Rosenblum said, “is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch.”

“Okay enough, enough,” Vargara protested, climbing off the pedestal, “that’s why I stopped doing the car shows!”

Maybe it benefits women like Vergara to play along with jokes like this, but there’s no excuse for the Academy to engage in such a blatantly sexist trope. It does a disservice to Vergara’s skills as an actress and comedian to pretend — even in a self-conscious way — like she’s just a body. Sure, it was self-aware – but a self-aware wink doesn’t work like a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Next year, do better.

TIME Television

Watch Ricky Gervais Invade Netflix Shows During the Emmys

He made special guest appearances in a few Netflix series

+ READ ARTICLE

Just minutes after Jimmy Kimmel roasted Ricky Gervais onstage at the Emmys — “Where’s Ricky? Now that’s a television face,” he said, contrasting the comedian with handsome Matthew McConaughey, “not even really a television face, it’s a Netflix face” — Gervais appeared quite literally as the face of Netflix in a commercial for its original programming.

“You know when you’re watching your favorite Netflix show,” Gervais asks the camera from his seat on a couch, “and after five straight episodes, it’s like, you wanna be in it?”

Next thing you know, he pops up on the sets of Netflix shows from House of Cards to Lilyhammer to Orange Is the New Black, crumbling under the hostility of the Litchfield inmates.

Gervais himself stars in Derek, a British import streaming on Netflix, for which he was nominated in the category of Best Actor in a Comedy Series, which he has already lost to Jim Parsons for his work on The Big Bang Theory. What are the odds of Netflix paying actors $1 million per episode anytime soon?

TIME Television

Nicki Minaj Appears to Have a Wardrobe Malfunction at the VMAs

Luckily, it didn't reach Janet Jackson-status

+ READ ARTICLE

After a lightning-fast costume change between “Anaconda” and “Bang Bang” during the opening number of the VMAs, Nicki Minaj walked back onstage — but something was amiss. The rapstress was clutching her little black dress closed in the middle across her chest.

She maintained composure — and her iron grip on her clothes — throughout the end of the number, daintily prancing while her fellow singers Jessie J and Ariana Grande danced with the vigor of performers whose clothing was not about to pop off.

View the full performance here.

TIME Music

Beyoncé Rumored to Perform Medley of Entire Album at the VMAs

"On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" - Chicago
Beyonce performs onstage during the "On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" at Soldier Field on July 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Larry Busacca/PW&mdashGetty Images

If you liked Beyoncé's last album, you'll love it even in a 15-minute version

A photo of a rumored set list posted earlier today on Twitter has fueled rumors that Beyoncé will perform a medley of every song off of her eponymous 2013 album in the 2014 MTV Video Music awards, Billboard reports.

The pop icon is set to receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, honoring her entire body of work; she’s also the most-nominated performer of the year, with eight nominations including Video of the Year (“Drunk in Love”), Best Female Video (“Partition”) and Best Video With a Social Message (“Pretty Hurts”).

Between a likely huge haul of Moonmen and this rumored show-stopping marathon performance, Queen Bey’s night is set to be flawless — that is, unless those divorce rumors pan out.

TIME celebrities

21 Gorgeous Photos of Lauren Bacall

A classic Hollywood star, Bacall was known for her sultry looks and elegant style. As TIME wrote when she first made a name for herself in To Have and Have Not, in 1944, “Lauren Bacall has cinema personality to burn, and she burns both ends against an unusually little middle… She has a javelinlike vitality, a born dancer's eloquence in movement, a fierce female shrewdness and a special sweet-sourness”

TIME celebrity

Lauren Bacall Dies at 89

American actress Lauren Bacall
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow"

Screen legend Lauren Bacall has died at the age of 89.

The Humphrey Bogart Estate tweeted at 7:55 p.m. ET on Tuesday: “With deep sorrow, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life, we confirm the passing of Lauren Bacall.”

Born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx, New York City, Bacall first rose to prominence opposite Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not in 1944 —which featured her famously saucy line, “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow” — setting off one of Hollywood’s most iconic romances. Bogart and Bacall would marry in 1945, when she was 20 and he was 45, and were paired in three more movies together: The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo.

Bacall’s list of co-stars reads as a who’s who of the Golden Age of Hollywood: Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, Gregory Peck in Designing Women, June Allyson in Woman’s World. Equally well known for her stage work, she won two Tony Awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical: in 1970 for Applause, based on the Oscar-winning film All About Eve, and in 1981 for Woman of the Year. She remained active throughout into her old age, with notable appearances in 1990’s Misery, as James Caan’s agent, and 2003’s Dogville, alongside Nicole Kidman. She also made a cameo as herself on HBO’s The Sopranos, and recently lent her recognizably resonant voice as a guest star on an episode of Family Guy.

Bacall remained with Bogart until his death from cancer in 1957. They had two children together, Stephen and Leslie. She later married actor Jason Robards in 1961, but they divorced eight years later. They had one son together, the actor Sam Robards.

TIME Opinion

Ironic Misandry: Why Feminists Pretending to Hate Men Isn’t Funny

The humor is lost on most people, and it's terrible PR for feminism

If you’ve stumbled into certain feminist corners of the Internet lately, you may have noticed the word misandry cropping up. No, not by men’s rights activists whining that feminists hate men (or at least, not just by them). By feminists. Who think it’s funny to use it ironically.

But let’s back up a little. What exactly IS misandry, you ask? It is literally the hatred of men (in ancient Greek, “mis” means hatred, and “andro“ means male or masculine). It is the inverse of misogyny.

When feminists joke that they are misandrists, they are riffing off the misguided popular notion that they are man-haters. They mean to satirize the women who say they are not feminists because they love men. It’s an inside, inside joke.

Granted, there is something amusing about a girlish decorative sampler with “misandry” embroidered in purple thread, in the way that gross contrast is often amusing. And there’s something droll about a quiz that measures your level of misandry by asking if you’ve “cut a man’s hair off while he’s sleeping thus destroying his power,” or a list of reimagined misandrist lullabies like, “Hush little baby, don’t say a word / Ever; your sister is talking.”

And the urge to fight these misconceptions about feminists with humor is understandable. Obviously, very few feminists actually hate men as a whole, and none actually want to “kill all men” or drink “male tears” as some of these so-called ironists like to joke.

But the irony is all too often lost, despite recent arguments that the right kind of guys are in on the joke and love it. But the anecdotal evidence of that is not convincing, and those friends of women who like to use the word misandry might are likely to be a self-selecting group. Last year, a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll found that only 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men consider themselves to be feminists. Of that 16 percent, surely even fewer would find jokes about misandry funny.

Parodying the tropes of feminism’s enemies is not, in itself, unfunny or unhelpful. Consider Leandra Medine’s engaging site Man Repeller, which riffs off of and rejects the notion that women’s fashion is all about attracting men. And it’s empowering to reappropriate labels like “witch” and “bra-burner” that have been flung as criticism at women who dare to question the oppressive status quo. A new Twitter account, @WomanAgainstFeminism, takes on the popular hashtag used by women who disavow the movement with satirical rationales that humorously point out all the ways that women do need feminism.

But inherent in this word “misandry” is hatred. And inherent in phrases like “ban men” and “male tears” are cruelty and violence. If a man wore a tee shirt that said “misogynist,” even if he were a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, wearing it tongue-in-cheek, it would not be funny. It would be misguided.

What feminists really hate is the patriarchy—the web of institutions that systemically oppress women. And to tear it down, we need as many allies as we can get. Telling half the population that we hate them, even in jest, is not the way to do that. Feminism is still very much engaged in the battle for hearts and minds; appealing to the sense of humor of a very small minority of the population can be a good way to alienate the rest. That’s not to say that feminists should water down their true demands and complaints to appeal to broader swaths of the population. Nevertheless, to get folks on your side, you need an an appealing message. Humor can help. But ironic misandry is just bad PR.

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