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Mr. Rogers Was a Total Revolutionary — Here's Why

June 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

He based his career on his horror of what he saw going on in the world around him and was outspoken his whole life about it.


The woman next to me in the movie theater is crying. Not the kind of delicate, dab your tears away and sniffle crying like I did at “Blockers.” No, this woman is in full best friend's funeral heaving mode. We are watching a man tie his sneakers.

Fred Rogers always had talent for making adults sob. When he accepted his lifetime achievement Daytime Emmy in 1997, he moved an audience full of soap opera stars to tears in moments by simply asking them to take ten seconds to “think of the people who helped you become who you are, those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.”

In the fifteen years since his death, the absence of Mr. Rogers in the world only seems to grow more tear-jerkingly apparent. Not just because he was quiet and soothing and patient, but because he was ferocious and brave and radical. As Oscar winner Morgan Neville's timely, tear-duct lubricating documentary “Won't You Be My Neighbor?” makes clear, the easily parodied, often underestimated icon of children's television was a total badass.

Fred Rogers was an unlikely hero, an ordained Presbyterian minister and a puppeteer. Dismayed by the relentless pace, cruel slapstick and shameless commercialism of the still burgeoning medium of television — and concerned about its effects on children — he set out to create something different. As he once said, “I went into television because I hated it.” At the age of 40, he debuted “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood”on PBS. Unlike most broadcast fare, it was languorously paced, with sweater buttoning and fish feeding unfolding in real time. It was also, from the very beginning, not screwing around.

One of the bittersweet joys of “Won't You Be My Neighbor?” is how Neville portrays Rogers not as some squishy Teletubby but as a loving, curious, concerned and often fed up human being. Fred Rogers did not suffer fools. He based his career on his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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