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Back in the 60’s my Ex-wife’s father met actor Dick Van Dyke on a Transatlantic cruise. He reported Van Dyke was a gentleman and a pleasure to be around. Van Dyke could have reported the same.

Back then, people took cruises and just about everything else a little more seriously than today. I saw a photograph of the meeting. If memory serves, Van Dyke was weaning a plaid or checkered suit, with vest, and a hat – something suitable for both hunting Scottish Grouse or walking Glasgow in the evening. He was wearing a suit and hat on a cruise, standing, right there, on the deck of the QE2. He was smiling.

Contrast that image to any modern cruise. Contrast it to anything modern. The culture, vacations, entertainment, dress, etc., has changed. Van Dyke noticed and commented:

Dick Van Dyke, who is currently filming Mary Poppins Returns, which is scheduled for release next year, has warned of his fears over the effects of “scary” video games and films on young children.

The 91-year-old actor, who will make a cameo appearance in the upcoming film, describes these activities as a far cry from the free-spirited, kite-flying, carousel-riding world of the two children, Jane and Michael, in the original Mary Poppins.

Van Dyke believes video games incite violent behaviour and that big-screen violence is affecting impressionable young people who “idolise it as a romantic way of life”. He has no doubt Walt Disney would have been horrified by the explicit depictions of blood, gore and killing in some of the contemporary productions created to entertain children. “He would have spoken out about it,” he said.

Van Dyke rose to prominence in films including Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as his TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. His role as Bert, the charming chimney-sweep in Mary Poppins, is perhaps the best known and, in the sequel, he will play the part of Mr Dawes Jr, chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, alongside Emily Blunt as the eccentric nanny.

Commenting on why the industry rarely makes films with such innocence as Mary Poppins, he said: “We lost Walt Disney, for one thing. Walt was a child at heart. He had such creativity and imagination. We said we were both children looking for our inner adults.”

He argued that children’s films from Hollywood’s so-called golden age taught morals and manners: “When I was a teenager, I modelled myself after the way Fred Astaire or Cary Grant dressed. Now kids emulate street gangs. They like to dress like hoods. That’s just a reversal. They’re picking the wrong role models.”

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Like this, with a hat. PBS.

At 91, he has every right to complain. And, given the new reality, he is justified. The natives in Robinson Crusoe, USN, would be over-dressed on a Carnival ride these days. And they were supposed to be savages. What does that tell you?

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