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Can you say Hero? The Life and Times of Mr. Fred Rogers
February 11, 2009 6:09 AM   Subscribe

Can you say Hero? The Life and Times of Mr. Fred Rogers One of the most influential people ever to grace television, Mr. Rogers was a neighbor to millions of children across the US. His legacy has left a long lasting impression on the fabric of society. With today's children being force fed Hanna Montana, and Joey 101, wouldn't it be nice if we could go to the kingdom of make believe, just one more time?
posted by Heliochrome85 (57 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter remembers Mr Rogers...
posted by jaduncan at 6:15 AM on February 11, 2009


Today's children may be being force fed Hannah Montana and Joey 101 (whatever that is), but if so their parents are at least partially complicit. At our house, the kids only watch PBS and then (mainly) only on tape/DVD so we don't get the "sponsorship messages".

</supercilioustone&gt
posted by DU at 6:20 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh please, he's not a hero, he was just doing his job.

(I kid!)
posted by smackfu at 6:21 AM on February 11, 2009


meow meow
posted by psylosyren at 6:26 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nothing but nothing makes me choke up as quickly and truly as reading about Fred Rogers, remembering that he's no longer with us and realizing that he never doubted that all of us could be far better neighbors than we are.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:29 AM on February 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


There was this difference between Mr. R and Sesame Street: Sesame St taught kids smart stuff--school stuff, sort of; Mr Rogers gave them self-esteem and let them know they were just fine and to feel good about themselves.
posted by Postroad at 6:30 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


While clicking around the Muppet thread from earlier, I found mental_floss' 15 Reasons Mr. Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever. A great read. Looking at children's television today, I count myself blessed to have been raised on Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, and Mr. Rogers.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 6:34 AM on February 11, 2009


I love Fred Rogers, but there's something about the tone of this piece that didn't quite work for me, as if they were trying to match him and didn't succeed. Then again, I have issues with people trying to write about a thing as that thing, and maybe this just falls into that category. It's interesting to see his routine, though.

Also, could we quit with the sanctimonious glorification of the olden days? Blah blah blah everything was better when I was young and children were innocent and had longer attention spans blah blah blah.
posted by marginaliana at 6:34 AM on February 11, 2009


We've never needed Mr. Rogers as much as we do now.
posted by tommasz at 6:35 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Mr. Rogers obit thread still brings tears to my eyes.
posted by chillmost at 6:40 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, could we quit with the sanctimonious glorification of the olden days? Blah blah blah everything was better when I was young and children were innocent and had longer attention spans blah blah blah.

We never had comments like this back before those 40,000ers showed up and took away Metafilter's innocence.
posted by bondcliff at 6:56 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hanna Montana

Have you seen the show? It's about a girl who's able to pretend to be a huge rock star and still go to a regular high school and somehow have a hit concert, every night, in her own town. And no one, I mean no one, notices. And Billy Ray dances! And people like him! If that's not the Kingdom of Make Believe, I don't know what is.
posted by Stynxno at 6:58 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


If anyone has doubts about how amazing of a person Mr Rogers was, you won't after you finish watching this.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:02 AM on February 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


The website this post links to is merely someone reprinting the well-known 1998 Esquire article about Mr. Rogers by Tom Junod (the article itself is presently not available on Esquire's website). We've discussed this article in previous Mr. Rogers threads.
posted by briank at 7:09 AM on February 11, 2009


When I was a little preschooler, I was asked to draw a picture of my hero. My parents were sure that I would draw the Six Million Dollar Man since I had tons of 6M$M swag, dolls, tee-shirts, stickers, sheets, you name it. I however produced a picture of Mr. Rogers decending his entry staircase. The Six Million Dollar Man was cool, sure. The Six Million Dollar Man was fun to imitate with my brother in the back yard, definitely. Fred Rogers however was who I looked up to.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2009


Also, could we quit with the sanctimonious glorification of the olden days? Blah blah blah everything was better when I was young and children were innocent and had longer attention spans blah blah blah.

Here at MetaFilter we don't put people down for having feelings. We encourage people to talk about their feelings. We know that conversations about things that happened a while ago can also open the way for talking about losses that children may have experienced, such as the death of a pet or someone they knew. Such conversations give us a chance to help children begin to understand one of the most difficult facts of life - that all living things die. It's a fact that remains hard for many of us to face, no matter how old we are. When a pet dies, the understanding of what death means will come only little by little - as will a child's readiness to accept a replacement. Children need a lot of help understanding death, and, like all of us, need time to grieve.

Did something happen to you, Marginalia, that you'd like to talk about? You're safe here. Would you like some cocoa?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:23 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuckin' A Fred Rogers is a hero. He lived and breathed the air of the gods.
posted by pianomover at 7:28 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've discussed this article in previous Mr. Rogers threads.

Yeah, much as we all love Mr. Rogers, this is a double post.
posted by EarBucket at 7:32 AM on February 11, 2009


I have issues with people trying to write about a thing as that thing

please please please leave the thread open long enough to give marginalia a chance to parse that sentence
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:39 AM on February 11, 2009


Urgh. The faux naïve tone of that piece causes some very un-Mr. Rogers feelings in me.
posted by chinston at 7:52 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can you say poor web design?
posted by Sargas at 7:57 AM on February 11, 2009


Ummm. I only know this because I won't let my daughter watch it but I think you meant Zoey 101.
posted by shmurley at 8:11 AM on February 11, 2009


Thanks for this, I hadn't seen that article before. I'm sitting here at work trying really hard not to cry.

Oh, yeah, and I really want a Greasemonkey snark filter. Christ on a crutch you people drive me nuts sometimes.
posted by ZakDaddy at 8:12 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suspect he (she? sorry) was being a bit sly, but Pollomacho just made me a little sniffly. I'd like some cocoa, please.
posted by kalimac at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2009


Zoey 101, like Hannah Montana, is not exactly the same demographic, unless you were watching Mr. Rogers at age 10. [/uncle]
posted by ormondsacker at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2009



Not to derail from the only person I have ever wished to emulate or refer to as a hero. (and I am an atheist)

But what does it do for the people who always seem compelled to state,
We've discussed this article in previous Mr. Rogers threads.

Yeah, much as we all love Mr. Rogers, this is a double post.


I just don't get it. So it is a double or similar post. If you recognize that fact, just bail out and go to a different post. Some of us are not so averse to rereading something we came across in the past.
Especially if is about Mr. ******* Rogers.

I wonder if Mr. Rogers would attempt to belittle someones efforts to post about a truely inspirational man.
posted by notreally at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2009


Mr. Rogers talks about breastfeeding. The video clip shown on this site is from a 1968 episode of the show. When you think about all the hoopla and politics around breastfeeding today, it's wonderful to see someone treat it as such a normal, loving thing.

Mr. Rogers was - and is - truly an inspirational man.
posted by melissa at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2009


One of the most important realizations in my cynical life was that liking, admiring, and trying to emulate Mister Rogers is totally cool.
posted by tepidmonkey at 8:32 AM on February 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


That's just something in my eye.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2009


As a kid, I didn't care for Mr. Rogers. While it isn't correct to say that I found him condescending, I couldn't stand the pacing of his show. I thought it was for the developmentally challenged.

As an adult watching Mikey-San's link, however, I'm amazed. In a room full of egos, booming voices, and intimidation, he showed that you needed none of those to be the most powerful person amongst them. Very cool.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 8:51 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pollomacho, can I grieve for intelligent, non-trite discussion on Metafilter? Or is that one of those things, like innocence in childhood, that we never really had in the first place?

stupidsexyFlanders - it's like, if you're writing about why something is funny, it's hard to be funny while doing that. Because the process by which we break down our perception of humor is not the same as the process by which we experience humor. Similarly, the way we experience Mr. Rogers isn't the same as the way we experience thinking about Mr. Rogers or nostalgia about Mr. Rogers - at least, it isn't to me. Am I making any sense at all?
posted by marginaliana at 8:57 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is a picture of the Maya Lin Penn Station Clock talked about in the article
posted by tylerfulltilt at 9:32 AM on February 11, 2009


This is a lovely tribute to Fred Rogers and is a testament to the sincerity of his commitment to communicate to each child their inherent worth. Madigan interviewed Rogers for an newspaper article at a time when he himself was in the midst of a personal crisis. Rogers became a mentor and friend to Madigan and they maintained a life long connection. Its hard to imagine how someone like Rogers found time for a relative stranger but he did. He lived his word.
posted by ameliajayne at 9:32 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cannot get past first paragraph. What are you doing, trying to make me cry at work?

Maybe I'll try again next week. *sniff*
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:36 AM on February 11, 2009


I worked with a guy who once went with a group of friends to Pittsburgh, where their plans consisted of staying up the entire night, hitting various bars, and drinking until they were slobbering and stupid. The next morning, as they were walking (wobbling) down the street, they happened to come upon a group of people leaving a church service. Mr. Rogers was at the center of that group. My co-worker, forgetting everything in that moment except the unexpected amazement of seeing his childhood hero, shouted "Mr. Rogers!" and ran straight up to him. Imagine the looks of horror on the faces of the other parishioners, confronted by this apparition - wild-eyed, clothes wrinkled and smelling of smoke, skin and breath reeking of alcohol.

Mr. Rogers just reached out and pulled him into a hug. My co-worker started to cry, and Mr. Rogers talked quietly to him. What was said? He never would tell us.
posted by HopperFan at 9:44 AM on February 11, 2009 [21 favorites]


Dammit, Metafilter. Every year you do this to me.

*snif*
posted by grubi at 9:59 AM on February 11, 2009


I love this place. MeFites are the New Yorkers of the internet: the ultimate tough crowd. Voice an opinion in a room full of 'em and watch out: there's already a line forming to tell you why your favourite whateveritis sucks.

But mention Mr. Rogers, and we weep like children.

That's what keeps me coming back here. That and the bacon.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:02 AM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Have to repost this here (from the article):

ONCE UPON A TIME, a little boy with a big sword went into battle against Mister Rogers. Or maybe, if the truth be told, Mister Rogers went into battle against a little boy with a big sword, for Mister Rogers didn't like the big sword. It was one of those swords that really isn't a sword at all; it was a big plastic contraption with lights and sound effects, and it was the kind of sword used in defense of the universe by the heroes of the television shows that the little boy liked to watch. The little boy with the big sword did not watch Mister Rogers. In fact, the little boy with the big sword didn't know who Mister Rogers was, and so when Mister Rogers knelt down in front of him, the little boy with the big sword looked past him and through him, and when Mister Rogers said, "Oh, my, that's a big sword you have," the boy didn't answer, and finally his mother got embarrassed and said, "Oh, honey, c'mon, that's Mister Rogers," and felt his head for fever. Of course, she knew who Mister Rogers was, because she had grown up with him, and she knew that he was good for her son, and so now, with her little boy zombie-eyed under his blond bangs, she apologized, saying to Mister Rogers that she knew he was in a rush and that she knew he was here in Penn Station taping his program and that her son usually wasn't like this, he was probably just tired…. Except that Mister Rogers wasn't going anywhere. Yes, sure, he was taping, and right there, in Penn Station in New York City, were rings of other children wiggling in wait for him, but right now his patient gray eyes were fixed on the little boy with the big sword, and so he stayed there, on one knee, until the little boy's eyes finally focused on Mister Rogers, and he said, "It's not a sword; it's a death ray." A death ray! Oh, honey, Mommy knew you could do it….And so now, encouraged, Mommy said, "Do you want to give Mister Rogers a hug, honey?" But the boy was shaking his head no, and Mister Rogers was sneaking his face past the big sword and the armor of the little boy's eyes and whispering something in his ear—something that, while not changing his mind about the hug, made the little boy look at Mister Rogers in a new way, with the eyes of a child at last, and nod his head yes.

We were heading back to his apartment in a taxi when I asked him what he had said.

"Oh, I just knew that whenever you see a little boy carrying something like that, it means that he wants to show people that he's strong on the outside.

"I just wanted to let him know that he was strong on the inside, too.

"And so that's what I told him.

"I said, 'Do you know that you're strong on the inside, too?' "

"Maybe it was something he needed to hear."


Every time.
posted by grubi at 10:16 AM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


@ psylosyren

meow meow Diane Rehm meow.
posted by noriyori at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2009


Zoey 101, like Hannah Montana, is not exactly the same demographic, unless you were watching Mr. Rogers at age 10. [/uncle]

I was. I'm still watching him.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 AM on February 11, 2009


Metafilter: Do you know that you're strong on the inside, too?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:36 AM on February 11, 2009


Rotten.com, in between snuff pictures and scathing, searing commemorations of the worst humanity has to offer, set out to hack Mr. Rogers to pieces with a "tell-it-like-it-is" biography of the man, Fred Rogers, digging deep for every little bit of dirt they could find.

They were completely humbled and awed.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:38 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how just having Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on in the room with young kids calms things down.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2009


As a kid, I didn't care for Mr. Rogers. While it isn't correct to say that I found him condescending, I couldn't stand the pacing of his show. I thought it was for the developmentally challenged.

My mom wouldn't let me watch Mr. Rogers or violent cartoons (mostly Popeye). I'm still not exactly sure why, but yeah, I didn't like what I got to see of the show much either. It did seem condescending/patronizing to me. (And yeah, this piece is obviously really old. I did read it, though, and I kinda liked the attempt to write a thing as a thing.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:44 AM on February 11, 2009


It's amazing how just having Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on in the room with young kids calms things down.

Turning on infomercials with young kids in the room will calm things down. As a young kid, I used to come running to the TV whenever I heard my mom's soap opera break into commercials.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2009


You people are going to bring him up until I finally go out and get every episode for my daughter, aren't you?
...
thank you
posted by Vindaloo at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2009


I couldn't stand the pacing of his show...

Yeah, I was always like frustrated at having to wait for him to change his clothes before I could see the gay puppets...Lady Elaine was totally the Joan Collins of PBS.
posted by troybob at 12:10 PM on February 11, 2009


Also by Tom Junod (Esquire Magazine)
posted by kid ichorous at 12:41 PM on February 11, 2009


I've always wanted to see Mr. Rogers lose it. A CGI cameo in the new Watchman film; something along the lines of Mr. Rogers throat punching a rapist, or kicking a Madoff type guy in the groin. I really can't say why I'd like to see anything like that; but I would imagine that a guy that is as mild, honest, and healthy as Mr. Rogers was would be an extremely fierce person if wronged.

"Welcome to the new millenium, bad person", or "please put this in your pension fund next time you swindle a retiree" a swift jab; and Mr. Rogers calls EMS from a pay phone. Puts a 50 in the guys pocket and leaves. That would be so cool.
posted by buzzman at 1:21 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


buzzman: You might enjoy "The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny".
posted by tepidmonkey at 1:40 PM on February 11, 2009


Tepidmonkey, Mr. Rogers would NEVER off himself. Just wouldn't be right.
posted by buzzman at 3:40 PM on February 11, 2009


I've been watching Mr. Rogers with the toddler I look after a few times a week. I like his soothing voice and the things he shows his "television neighbors"- last episode, he showed us what it's like to get a shot. But the Land of Make Believe is laaaame- nothing ever happens!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:40 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Here at MetaFilter we don't put people down for having feelings
posted by humannaire at 7:56 PM on February 11, 2009


At our house, the kids only watch PBS and then (mainly) only on tape/DVD so we don't get the "sponsorship messages".

You are good parents. Thank you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 PM on February 11, 2009


A few days ago, I hung this poster in my living room.

Some days, for no particular reason, I get so sad that Mister Rogers is gone.
posted by sicem07 at 11:20 PM on February 11, 2009


Podcast about Mister Rogers from Tank Riot. Includes guests Chuck Aber, Robert Trow, Betty Aberlin, Don Brockett, John Costa, Keith David, David Newell, and Joe Negri.
posted by anastasiav at 1:11 PM on February 12, 2009


I listened to that podcast today. It was okay, but none of those "guests" were actually on it. (Some of them -- e.g. John Costa -- aren't still living.)
posted by grumblebee at 7:42 PM on February 12, 2009


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