Mary Poppins and Guns

My TV doesn’t give me many options for watching.  The “Bash Trump” networks, which I enjoy with a fiendish glee, were showing documentary crime stories and travel narratives, which didn’t interest me.  So it came down to Mary Poppins or American Reunion.  I couldn’t bring myself to watch Hollywood Ninja again.  American Reunion wasn’t coming on for a half-hour, so I resigned myself to Mary Poppins.  Then something strange happened.  I found myself enjoying Mary Poppins, so much so that I never did switch the channel to American Reunion.  A few weeks ago, I also found myself spellbound with The Sound of Music.  And in neither movie were there car chases, shooting, things blowing up, or gratuitous sex.  I even liked the music and dancing.  I’m not bashing contemporary movies.  I’m rather saying that old, family films have a command to them.  They were written for adults and for children.  And they have entertainment value for adults still.

They were created before the assault on family occurred of which I was a part.  I refer to the Summer of Love in Haight Ashbury and all that followed.  That was 1967.  Free love and visceral challenges to nearly all forms of authority, including police, military, parents, and religion served to unsettle society.  In fact, though the hippie movement was underground and counter-cultural, some of the values that it espoused became normative of general society.  Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music came out in 1964 and 1965 respectively.  Jimi Hendrix exploded into culture in 1967, solidifying the hippie movement as a social force that would revolutionize culture and reorder proprieties and values until today.

Though free love, drugs, and rock music have stayed with us, contemporary cinema’s preoccupation with guns is hard to account for.  There was a counter-hippie movement in the ’80’s when cocaine, money, and status became normative, along with being tough in business and personal life.  Then there was the ascendance of the punk movement which was essentially violence made musical.  But I’m not sure that these movements account for the rise of guns in film.

Mary Poppins could not be made today.  But when it was made, it was well made.  So well made that we can watch it today.  The cute children, the songs, the family dynamics, the dancing are all pleasing.  There can be good cinema that evokes other feelings than only adrenaline.  I don’t know if we can go there today, though.  Some form of peaceful revolution would need to happen in order to change pop culture into something that no longer craves adrenaline.  Perhaps the youth who are coming out to protest guns in the US will also mount a revolution of peace.  For that norm hasn’t remained from the world of the hippies.



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