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Wouldn't You Be, Couldn't You Be, WON'T You Be The Narcissistic Society I Give Birth To?
April 6, 2009 9:00 AM   Subscribe

A little old, but chock full of enough wackadoodle quotes to be your morning cup of head-go-boom-iness. FOX News on Mr. Rogers and his effect on "the narcissistic society he gave birth to": "This evil, evil man has now ruined a generation of kids." "Do you think that Mr. Rogers [...] ruined a crop of our newest, youngest generation?" "Instead of telling them 'you're special, you're great', why didn't he say, 'there's a lot of room for improvement, keep working on yourself'?"

FOX & Friends viewers agreed, with one respondent attributing the blame to a trifecta of Mr. Rogers telling kids they were special, Sesame Street telling children "you need to be entertained to learn", and Dr. Spock's advocation of "lax discipline, no spanking."

The "study" that the Fox & Friends morning hosts refer to is an interview by Jeffrey Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal of Louisiana State University finance professor Don Chance, who, reflecting upon the entitlement he felt his students seeking A's displayed, realized, "It just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers." Not, by the way, a study.

Chance believes that the reason that those of his students who were Asian-born did not "hit [him] up for an A" was because of Mr. Rogers, among others, as "representative of a culture of excessive doting." He targets "you're special", "they're just children", "call me [first name]", and "tell me about your day" as further indications.
posted by WCityMike (191 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aside from the wackadoodleness, there is something interesting buried within all this, in terms of the discussion about the encouragement of American narcissism, and the later popularized counter-reaction of Tyler Durden repeatedly quoted around Mefi, "You are not a special and unique snowflake."
posted by WCityMike at 9:04 AM on April 6, 2009


Well, I am, but the rest of y'all aren't.
posted by grouse at 9:06 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it appropriate to place kids on the same level as adults, with all of us calling each other by our first names? On one hand, the familiarity can mark a loving closeness between child and adult. But on the other hand, when a child calls an adult Mr. or Ms., it helps him recognize that status is earned by age and experience. It's also a reminder to respect your elders.

THE GODDAMNED SHOW WAS CALLED MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD.

pissed off Pittsburgher
posted by ALongDecember at 9:06 AM on April 6, 2009 [50 favorites]


Dear Palin, Plumber and Jindal

When you merge into IgnoranceBot and run in 2012, please adopt "We Hate Mr Rogers" as your campaign slogan. It's definitely a sure-fire winner and will absolutely land the Democrats in the briar patch.

Hugs and kisses
America
posted by DU at 9:06 AM on April 6, 2009 [86 favorites]


Wow, what the fuck else are they against? Christmas?
posted by Artw at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Rock music is full of great lines. These are my personal favorites, an expanding set, of course. I can't say why I like these. They're just lines that for some reason I tend to remember and enjoy.

- Don Chance


Professor Don Chance's Favorite rock quotes here.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, SNAP. For those playing at home, Metafilter loves Mr. Rogers. Linked-to thread made the sidebar back in the day. And he was awesome.

Just one more confirmation point for the blithering stupidity of Fox News.
posted by JHarris at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2009


I love when rich people who produce nothing of real value get the chance to wax philosophic about the failings of human compassion.
posted by uri at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2009 [53 favorites]


Okay, first of all, go after Mr. Rogers, I will rip your fucking head off and feed it to the dogs. And I am not a violent man. He's as close as America has ever come to producing a real-life saint, and it is a mark of how desperate some people are to create enemies to bolster a culture of blame that they can't even recognize real good when it walks among us.

But, to address their nonsense, Mr. Rogers ACTUAL show, not the pretend one they address, present a constant challenge to children. Mr. Rogers did not teach children that they do not need to learn, or grow, or develop. He did, however, begin from the premise that children are inherently worthwhile, and their experiences should be taken seriously. But if you ever listen to the message of many of his skits and songs, it comes from a recognition that children are too young to understand or control their emotions, and they must first be taught to identify them, and know that they are normal human experiences, and know that we, as people, must learn to understand and control our impulses in order for us to grow as people.

It's hardly fucking surprising that FIX never learned that lesson.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2009 [120 favorites]


Wow, what the fuck else are they against? Christmas?

The Easter Bunny. All that wanton promiscuity, y'know.
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2009


Sesame Street taught kids a lot while entertaining them . Mr. Rogers encouraged kids to be themselves, not to feel inferior, a problem many very young kids have. Between the two shows, kids got good stuff that was emotionally and intellectually sound and useful.
posted by Postroad at 9:12 AM on April 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


FOX, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2009




Louisiana State University
Asian or Pacific Islander: 3.20%
White non-Hispanic: 77.20%

I wonder why so many white kids begged for As. I also wonder if he did a class survey and found out which Asian students were raised in America. Maybe I'll check the Methods and Results sections of his article. Wait, there isn't one?
posted by ALongDecember at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]




Also, I've never really understand the "problem" they are supposedly finally finding the solution to. I certainly understand the MEME of "kids are told they are special too much, a little caning is what they really need". But I haven't really seen it. Yes, there are a few "everyone wins!" events, but it's hardly a widespread phenomenon.

OTOH, "be yourself" is the message of nearly every kid's movie or television show. You could hardly hope to find a message more perfectly crafted to produce conservatives. "Why are you hiding your racismconcerns about immigration? You should be yourself!" "Why are you paying all these taxes to the state? They aren't letting you be yourself!"

In other words, "be yourself" is fine advice but an obsession over self is usually called "selfishness".
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fox isn't my neighbor.
posted by kldickson at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


kids got good stuff that was emotionally and intellectually sound

Not exactly Fox's demographic. Its bad for business.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Two out of the three hosts (according to wikipedia) were born in the mid-1960s, as I was, and are therefore part of the first generation of kids to grow up on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street. They seem to have absorbed the "You are special!" part of the message while ignoring the "Share, and be nice to people" part.

Also - Asian kids? Which Asian kids? All the ones I grew up with in Hawaii watched Mister Rogers' and Sesame Street.
posted by rtha at 9:17 AM on April 6, 2009


So, on the one side of the fight you have one of the most generally beloved roll models from many people's childhoods, a man who taught us kindness and compassion, and on the other you have an industry that has made its fortune terrifying its viewers and insulting half the nation.

At this point, I have to figure that FOX is trying to become cartoon evil. "Who's the one person that pretty much everyone loves? Yeah, let's come out against him. Fuck that guy!"

Let me just be clear on this: if the war divides on these lines, with FOX on one side and Mr. Rogers and the Sesame Street Muppets on the other, I'll gladly share a trench with Kermit any day of the week. (And we'll win too, because we have Snuffleupagus and that guy is an incredible infiltrator. It's like he's invisible.)
posted by quin at 9:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [27 favorites]


...and they call themselves Christians?
posted by notsnot at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2009


"Instead of telling them 'you're special, you're great', why didn't he say, 'there's a lot of room for improvement, keep working on yourself'?"

Isn't this essentially what conservatives complain about liberals doing on a national level?
posted by Rhaomi at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2009 [25 favorites]


On another note, fascinating to see that Benjamin Spock is still as much of a bete noire to this crowd as he was 40 years ago when Phyllis Schlafly went berserk over his use of gender-inclusive pronouns in his child-rearing books.
posted by blucevalo at 9:19 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the past I've always thought of Fox as the sort of venue that reasonable people avoid and toward which it is pretty much a waste of time to invest any strong emotion.

Now, I think we really ought to start bringing out the pitchforks and torches. Mr. Rogers was a wonderful person. He is exactly the sort of person one would expect Fox to uphold as a example to be emulated. The man went into television because he thought it wasn't good enough: "I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen." Imagine how great the world would be if everyone chose their profession with equal altruism.

Fox is an abomination that ought to be driven from our airwaves, so that it might stop poisoning our country.
posted by oddman at 9:19 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've been hearing this idea in more reasonable media sources for years. Someone with more expertise on the issue can correct me, but I was under the impression that there was a major swing in child development circles away from the (crudely) "you're special for being you" towards the "you're special for working hard and trying" ethos; particularly because of a rise of students like these.

The 'Mister Rogers is evil' business just seems like a poorly executed attempt at a tongue-in-cheek headline grab.

Wow, I just defended Fox News.
posted by Adam_S at 9:22 AM on April 6, 2009


Wow. That's insane.

The best thing about this clip is the guy at 4:45 saying: "mmmm..... BUTTER."
posted by koeselitz at 9:22 AM on April 6, 2009


Let me just be clear on this: if the war divides on these lines, with FOX on one side and Mr. Rogers and the Sesame Street Muppets on the other, I'll gladly share a trench with Kermit any day of the week. (And we'll win too, because we have Snuffleupagus and that guy is an incredible infiltrator. It's like he's invisible.)

Sadly, not anymore. Some kinda conservative counterintelligence thing, I guess.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:23 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interesting, but I think any real survey of Fred Roger's life work will reveal that his teachings were not that "you are special, you deserve to be given the world on a platter and never have to work for it." Rather, they were that "you are special, because you are you, and everyone else is special because they are each themselves, and we all have our place in the world and we should respect each other's place."

I'm pretty sure that is a world apart from narcissism, and underscores a profound gap of understanding between true "liberal" thought and what the noise Right perceives liberal thought to be.
posted by hippybear at 9:26 AM on April 6, 2009 [33 favorites]


Sesame Street made the ghetto appealing to suburban kids, validated "non-traditional" living arrangements (Bert and Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch), and made it OK to talk to yourself in public (have imaginary friends). Mister Rogers was a gentleman by comparison!

No, I don't believe any of that, but those are actual arguments I've heard. I knew a guy whose mom wouldn't let him watch Sesame Street because it was based in "urban settings" or something. We all looked back and laughed, but people have some wacky notions of what TV shows teach kids.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:26 AM on April 6, 2009


when a child calls an adult Mr. or Ms., it helps him recognize that status is earned by age and experience

Yeah, well when the adults have acted as irresponsibly as our leaders and role models have over the past few decades I've little sympathy with the argument that just because you are old and been though some shit means you are automatically deserving of deference. Respect is earned through actions, and how you deal with people, not some magical dust that collects on your shoulders because of age.


(btw I grew up calling my parents by their first name and am currently a fine upstanding member of society)
posted by edgeways at 9:27 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


And yes, Fox is adept at mocking the cherished and the respected. As witness John Gibson's dismissal of Jon Stewart's emotional reaction to 9/11.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:28 AM on April 6, 2009


Fox is important, and I'm glad we have it. It is a simple, easy to use metric for people you've just met. Simply inquire in a neutral manner, "So, what did you think of Fox news last night?" and if you get anything other than a, "what the hell are you talking about -- Fox 'news' did you say -- are you fucking serious -- that shit is the toxic waste dump of the airwaves," you can safely file your new acquaintance in the Bozo Bin and move on to something more important. Like lunch. Pastrami or roast beef. Hmm....
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:29 AM on April 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


Ah yes, our two minutes hate, excellent!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:30 AM on April 6, 2009


Astro Zombie:

Word.
posted by hippybear at 9:32 AM on April 6, 2009


I would love to firebomb the Fox offices over this, but I watched a lot of Mr Rogers as a kid and I know that would not be a good way to deal with how I am feeling.
PARADOX
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [47 favorites]


Oops -- that second sentence should have been:

As witness John Gibson's dismissal of Jon Stewart's emotional reaction to 9/11.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2009


notsnot - I see you have not gotten the memo.

- atheist who hates it when people automatically equate 'good' with their belief of choice
posted by kldickson at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2009


Louisiana State University finance professor Don Chance, who, reflecting upon the entitlement he felt his students seeking A's displayed, realized, "It just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers." Not, by the way, a study.

"Children, this is Mr. Rogers. I want you to know that it's okay to feel bad about teachers who take advantage of their position by trying to pass off their ill-formed opinions as fact. You just march right down to the registrar and tell them, 'I want a real professor,' and if they don't let you change, you ask for your money back. Can you do that? Sure, you can."
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:37 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's certainly something to the line of argument, and it would be interesting to discuss the underlying topic.

It's a shame we can't get past Hulk level thought of Fox = Republican/conservatives = bad.

I recall a well-received post regarding the differences of children who are told they are smart and special and those who were applauded for their effort. So there is something there to discuss.
posted by dios at 9:38 AM on April 6, 2009


I always wondered where the forces of Cobra and Hydra and AIM and other evil organizations did their recruiting. I mean, who wants to align themselves with everything decent people hold dear? Now I know.

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy:

If you dislike Mr. Rogers and all he stands for, you might be an evil minion.

To know for sure, you may have to kick a puppy and see if you like it.

(And to completely derail, every generation is comprised of self-absorbed brats with a sense of entitlement and no real work ethic. Hippies, Gen-Xers, Millenials, whatever the squirming little rugrats are identified as now... all of them slackers looking for a handout, afraid of hard work! Saucy flappers! Soaplock dandies! Get a hairstyle I approve of, and toil with Christian zeal at self-betterment, you young ingrates! Bleah. The new "entitled youth" meme is already pretty stale.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:41 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Where can I get more Mr. Rogers for my kid?

(semi serious question)
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Recently, I have come into contact with a couple of young'uns whose sense of entitlement is breathtaking. I doubt Mr. Rogers had much to do with that, either way.

FOX would do more service by researching the constitutional right to twist the ears of certain kinds of people.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:44 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I recall a well-received post regarding the differences of children who are told they are smart and special and those who were applauded for their effort. So there is something there to discuss.

Apparently what happens is they go deeply into debt in order to buy ever larger houses as part of a property bubble, loading up on useless consumer goods and ridiculous cars along the way, and then it all comes crashing down and destroys the world economy.
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I recall a well-received post regarding the differences of children who are told they are smart and special and those who were applauded for their effort. So there is something there to discuss.

I suppose, except it isn't actually what Mr. Roger's message to kids was.

Another interesting topic to discuss would be the parallels in 30's/40's era fascist speeches in Italy and Germany versus the rhetoric on FOX News. That would be fascinating.
posted by GuyZero at 9:45 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a shame we can't get past Hulk level thought of Fox = Republican/conservatives = bad.

Yes, it is a shame that a shameless attempt by a laughably inept "new source" at indicting a cultural icon for society's ills in the name of shock value doesn't lead to a reasoned discussion of the meme that a knee-jerk conservative wants discussed. Just a shame.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:46 AM on April 6, 2009 [17 favorites]


Hating on Mr. Rogers? That's an ass-beating, folks. Seriously.
posted by jquinby at 9:46 AM on April 6, 2009


It's weird that the same people for whom a sense of injured entitlement, without establishing that that entitlement is deserved, are so angry that kids might want the same. American conservativism has made the angry white man their target audience for years, and now they have the temerity to target his kids for impersonating his behavior, and blame Mr. Rogers for it?

Really? You assholes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2009 [21 favorites]


I've been hearing this idea in more reasonable media sources for years. Someone with more expertise on the issue can correct me, but I was under the impression that there was a major swing in child development circles away from the (crudely) "you're special for being you" towards the "you're special for working hard and trying" ethos; particularly because of a rise of students like these.

Well, yes, but.

First of all, Mr. Rogers isn't exactly anti-work. The message I got from it as a kid was never "You're fine the way you are, so quit trying." It was "Man, growing up is hard work — keep at it, but take it a little at a time." I figure "keep at it, but take it a little at a time" is good advice for college too.

And also, people have been complaining about the lazy/whiny/unprepared/immature/whatever freshmen since there have been freshmen. Whatever people are telling you now, this isn't unique to the current generation.

So you're right that there is a movement away from self-esteem and validation and all that, but as far as I'm concerned it's an overreaction, and anyway Mr. Rogers is the wrong target.

(Or, on preview, what everyone the fuck else said. Awesome.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:48 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I knew a guy whose mom wouldn't let him watch Sesame Street because it was based in "urban settings" or something

Good thing I caught that one episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood where he taught me how to recognize racial code words.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:50 AM on April 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Heh. Sesame Street is how I learned that New York is awesome.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


At the core of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is an effort to help very small children identify and accept their emotional palette -- it's okay to be afraid, to be angry, to want comfort, to want friends -- and to put them into the context of normal behavior. There's absolutely none of the "you are a unique and special snowflake" nonsense; every word of that is invented bullshit on the part of the emotionally-stunted, fearful, angry, isolated right-wing fuckwads who didn't watch the show and learn how to be normal humans when they were three like the rest of us.
posted by briank at 9:53 AM on April 6, 2009 [20 favorites]


Heh. Sesame Street is how I learned that New York is awesome.

That too. There are some bits of the city that I found myself inexplicably drawn to when I started visiting as an adult, and I finally realized it was because the architecture reminded me of Big Bird.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:54 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was never a fan of MRN because it started when I was 10 and it was aimed at a younger audience. In fact, the few times I did see it I found a lot of it to be kind of cringy. But, I caught it a few times over the years when flipping channels and he would have some of the most amazing musical guests, like a really great and sophisticated performance from a jazz trio, and I would stick around and watch. I certainly respected him for that. But the puppets? Cringy.

Sesame street came out about the same time and was aimed at a younger audience but it immediately became a favorite of mine and most of my friends. We loved the Muppets, and they were never cringy.
posted by lordrunningclam at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2009


I suppose, except it isn't actually what Mr. Roger's message to kids was.

I agree. I don't think Mr. Rogers is an appropriate or wise focus for the discussion they apparently want to have. He is really just serving as a placeholder for a strawman they want to bash. Clearly parenting would be much of a factor than Mr. Rogers. But the issue they are skirting around is an interesting one.

I guess it is a shame that the topic was brought up by Fox News which is such an easy target that it's already been ground to dust. Not much interesting discussion to be had about it. It's a partisan hackfest there. Everyone knows it.

But I do find the underlying topic much more interesting and worthy of discussion: what is the source of the overwhelming sense of entitlement among children and has there been a noticeable change in the degree of that in recent times?
posted by dios at 9:56 AM on April 6, 2009


So you're right that there is a movement away from self-esteem and validation and all that, but as far as I'm concerned it's an overreaction, and anyway Mr. Rogers is the wrong target.

Right, this was exactly what I was trying to get across. The Mister Rogers bit is the absurd cherry on top added by Fox News, but underneath there is debate (justified or not) happening within child development circles on this issue.

As dios pointed out, it's unfortunate that legitimate debate is side-tracked by Fox News inanity, but so be it.
posted by Adam_S at 9:56 AM on April 6, 2009


Prosebeforehos link now dead - anyone got a mirror yet? I'm kind of hoping to not have to link directly to Fox. Hate to give them the traffic.
posted by 100watts at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2009


I found a pristine copy of Sesame Street Fever on vinyl this weekend, for only $0.99.

Talk about psyche damage, oh the disco memories....
posted by nomisxid at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, found one:
posted by 100watts at 9:59 AM on April 6, 2009


I agree with FOX. Mr. Rogers ruined America. Him and that other socialist hippy loser that was always going on about loving your neighbor. What was his name, again?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:01 AM on April 6, 2009 [18 favorites]


That would be the world's most magical invisible mirror link up there: http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=19427
posted by 100watts at 10:01 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are college students who expect As not because they are special, but because they have paid for them, and paid quite a lot for them. Treating education as a service industry has more to do with this sense of entitlement than anything Fred Rogers did.

On a more glib note, it's noteworthy Fox & Friends is finally cementing its anti-Christian stance by attacking a prominent Presbyterian minister beloved by a generation of Americans.
posted by boo_radley at 10:02 AM on April 6, 2009 [20 favorites]


Soaplock dandies

I don't know what those are, but am so happy to have heard that phrase.

You know, I never liked Mr. Rogers' show (freaky puppets! AAAAH!) and it was kind of slow to me, but, I always thought he himself was nice enough and I enjoyed watching him put on/take off his shoes. Oh, and I did want to play with the trolley car and giant traffic light.

I can't say that Fox News has ever provided me even that much entertainment value.
posted by emjaybee at 10:02 AM on April 6, 2009


> Where can I get more Mr. Rogers for my kid?

The Schedule

And amazon has a bunch of episodes on dvd, including a documentary of sorts about him.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:03 AM on April 6, 2009


Professor Don Chance's Favorite rock quotes here.

Now that is funniest thing I've seen on the internet in weeks.

Yes, Don, this is a classic:

Hit me with your best shot
Fire away
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot"
Pat Benatar


Oh yeah, in this one Don, the Kinks are being ironic. They are, in fact, making fun of people like you:

He's a well respected man about town
Doing the best things so conservatively
"A Well-Respected Man"
The Kinks

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:03 AM on April 6, 2009


Irresponsible mollycoddlers all! Frankly this great nation of ours has gone soft since the advent of the 8-hour work day and those so-called "fair" age requirements. No more are the youth of America instilled with the pride that comes from a full day's labor and the gratitude to those who provide them with such. These lack of morals and laissez-faire attitude shall cause us to fall under the yoke of our reprehensible foreign enemies soon enough, mark my words, you can be sure there are a great deal of honest, hard-working and patriotic gentlemen who echo my opinions.
posted by Spatch at 10:07 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dios, I believe this is the post that you were referencing.
posted by horsemuth at 10:07 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


oddman: that's amazing, I'd never heard that before. That quote is worth repeating :

"I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

I've got a whole new level of respect for the guy now. It's very Buckminster-Fulleresque : How can I best serve the human race?
posted by mannequito at 10:11 AM on April 6, 2009


It's a shame we can't get past Hulk level thought of Fox = Republican/conservatives = bad.

Well, in our defense, it's hard to see them as anything other than villainous when they pull shit like this. I'll grant that there is a possibility that Fox does not = bad when they stop doing things that so clearly = bad.

There certainly is a conversation to be had about the possibilities that valuing kids as unique and individual might affect their work ethic in negative ways. But by targeting Mr. Rogers, Fox isn't trying to have that discussion at all. They just want the attention for being shocking.

And that lack of good-faith in the discusison equals bad in my book.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


what is the source of the overwhelming sense of entitlement among children and has there been a noticeable change in the degree of that in recent times?

So you are actually begging the question here dios, in the old-school rhetorical sense.

There's been no change. Kids behave differently from adults for the same reason they can't get stuff from the top shelf of the refrigerator - their not finished growing. Entire regions of their brains are simply not there relative to an adult. You can no more expect adult emotional behaviour from a child than you could ask them to run five-minute mile or explain nuclear fission (although I had a pretty good handle on fission way before I had any insight into my inner emotional world, fwiw).

I have two kids. I know many, many kids. None of them are entitled. All of them behave badly sometimes. Writing off children as entitled is simply a cop-out by people who are too lazy to deal with the fact that children have emotional needs and are often unable to deal with things by themselves.

The children who are the most "mature" that I have met are the ones who have the saddest home lives. If you want to find an emotionally mature child who is hard working and not "entitled", find a child of a distant, angry single parent who has had to assume the mantle of being the adult in the house. Those kids' behaviour would make the FOX news very happy I suppose. Too bad they don't get to be children.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on April 6, 2009 [36 favorites]


I think this is mainly an attempt by Fox (really, their cadre of talking heads) to generate some controversy; I work with a lot of very conservative people -- both 'true' / paleo-conservatives and neo-cons -- and I don't think there's any hate for Mister Rogers. In fact I suspect that if you went around and polled a bunch of self-described conservatives, you'd probably get a lot of love for the guy.

The whole tone of the Fox piece is odd, because on several occasions I've heard Mister Rogers brought up by conservatives as examples of good / decent / respectable children's TV, generally in contrast to something that's currently on (Teletubbies, Dora the Explorer, whatever).

So not only is it an objectively stupid piece, it's a piece that I doubt is even consistent with the Fox News audience -- meaning the only conclusion I can draw is that they're intentionally trolling in order to get a reaction, even if that reaction is negative, from their audience. So basically, this sort of discussion is their goal.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:12 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who among us doesn't turn to Wall Street Journal columnists and finance professors when we need some child-rearing guidance?


Unfortunately, that particular finance professor has truly execrable taste in song lyrics, so I'm going to find a different one to tell me how to raise my child.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:14 AM on April 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


*facepalm*
posted by nola at 10:14 AM on April 6, 2009


I was going to come here and, like, write something outraged, but you guys have done way better than I ever could. Thanks for saying it all.

I guess all I could add is that... I thought that most of the Mr. Rogers Generation would be more likely to be professors than college students at this point. I was definitely a Mr Rogers era kid, and I have a half dozen or more college professors amongst my circle of friends, and no college undergraduates. How old is this Mr. Chance dude?

Oh, and also -- without Mr. Rogers there never would have been Lady Aberlin's Muumuu. That would just be wrong.
posted by edheil at 10:16 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


in my experience, i have observed an alarming degree of narcissism and entitlement among my generation (i'm thirty-three). but let's put the blame squarely where it belongs: post-WWII economic boom and resulting materialism, combined with the unrelenting marketing of said materialism to children (aided and abetted by parents, it must be noted).
posted by barrett caulk at 10:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


There certainly is a conversation to be had about the possibilities that valuing kids as unique and individual might affect their work ethic in negative ways. But by targeting Mr. Rogers, Fox isn't trying to have that discussion at all.

This may be true, but it's much more interesting for Mefi to have that conversation and bypass the redundant and played-out Fox News bashing.
posted by Adam_S at 10:17 AM on April 6, 2009


in short, capitalism, american-style.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2009


Also, NPR played an interview with the authors of The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century on Sunday. I think that American society has begun to normativise (normalize?) being emotionally distant, which is the exact opposite of children's natural tendencies. FOX news would love nothing so dearly as a society of perfectly rational, strictly economic actors. That children want to love and be loved, to interact and not be constantly generating economic activity is, of course, an anathema to them.

Someone needs to tell FOX News that Fahrenheit 451 wasn't utopian.
posted by GuyZero at 10:27 AM on April 6, 2009


"...but the significant thing here, Greta, is that Professor Chance, by way of alarmist comparisons between students raised domestically versus in Vietnam and China, has delivered an oblique endorsement of Communism."

"That's right, Bill. So this week we'll be diverting our FOX Eye-in-Sky from traffic to night-vision strafing runs on the good professor's homestead."
posted by kid ichorous at 10:27 AM on April 6, 2009


Kids behave differently from adults for the same reason they can't get stuff from the top shelf of the refrigerator - their not finished growing....Writing off children as entitled is simply a cop-out by people who are too lazy to deal with the fact that children have emotional needs and are often unable to deal with things by themselves.

First, I certainly am not writing off children as entitled. Indeed, I personally think the problem is more with the parents. Second, I get, as suggested above, that there is an age-old issue with adults saying "Kids these days!" So I'm prepared to accept that is all this is. But it strikes me that some witches' brew of bad-parenting and cultivated narcissism has resulted in lots of anecdotal surprises for me (like my paralegal explaining to me that they don't keep score or have outs in her son's baseball league). I lack a very good understanding of the issues at play, which is why I would find it interesting for a robust discussion. But it strikes me that it something more than "kids have to rely on parents" because of developmental issues.
posted by dios at 10:30 AM on April 6, 2009


Dear Fox News:

You're not special. There's a lot of room for improvement, keep working on yourself. Oh, and go to hell.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


If I ever come face-to-face with one of these FOX talking heads who speak ill of Mister Rogers, I will forgive them. I will forgive them until their eyeballs burst and the blood boils in their veins.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a shame we can't get past Hulk level thought of Fox = Republican/conservatives = bad.

Apparently, when Rupert Murdoch's channel pisses on the grave of someone who can't defend himself, we're the ones at fault for discussing it. It's almost like dios is trying to tell us how we should discuss a thread about what FOX News does, by not talking about FOX News.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:34 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


"You're special." On the Yahoo Answers Web site, a discussion thread about Mr. Rogers begins with this posting: "Mr. Rogers spent years telling little creeps that he liked them just the way they were. He should have been telling them there was a lot of room for improvement. ... Nice as he was, and as good as his intentions may have been, he did a disservice."

Seriously, WSJ? Yahoo Answers?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:39 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I offer this idea for a quirky indie comedy, free of charge:

Main character (or antagonist) publicly, ignorantly, and vehemently insults the character and legacy of Mr. Rogers. Mayhem ensues.

That is all.
posted by awenner at 10:39 AM on April 6, 2009


Hating on Mr. Rogers? That's an ass-beating, folks. Seriously.

Is that the sort of lesson Mr. Rogers taught?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


dios: I agree. I don't think Mr. Rogers is an appropriate or wise focus for the discussion they apparently want to have. He is really just serving as a placeholder for a strawman they want to bash.

Yes, but they do this all the time. Between equating criticising Bush with treason, the "war on Christmas," and Glenn Beck fake-crying on the air, it's just ludicrous. The Daily Show writers must love the channel these days, for they know all they have to do to fill time is show a clip from Fox News and have Jon Stewart react to it and they've filled a whole segment.

And the conservatives have been commandeered by people who have been doing this for decades! Remember old Dungeons & Dragons? I grew up without any access to this awesome, literate and wonderful thing because everyone at my church said it was "of the devil," and they showed these bizarre yet, to a kid, frightening videos that make it sound more dangerous than hard drugs. By the time I had escaped all that it had already degraded into 2nd Edition lameness.

(I still bear a grudge over that.)

You mention that FOX News bashing is common here, and you're right. I imagine it'll happen up until the day it's no longer worthy of ridicule. As it is now, they're constantly setting up straw men and ripping them down. Some of those straw men have been cut to pieces so many times, it's amazing they're still intact enough to tear apart again.
posted by JHarris at 10:41 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The role models for today's college freshmen were Bratz, not Mr. Rogers.
posted by queensissy at 10:43 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dios: But I do find the underlying topic much more interesting and worthy of discussion: what is the source of the overwhelming sense of entitlement among children and has there been a noticeable change in the degree of that in recent times?

I attribute a lot of this to marketing designed to exploit what's sometimes referred to as "pester power" (there's another, better industry term that slips my mind right now).

These marketing techniques (and this isn't tin-foil hat stuff--there's a whole body of literature on these techniques, both from the industry's perspective and from industry's critic's perspective) involve advertising directly to children in ways that create a wedge in the relationship between parents and children, making children feel empowered to nag their parents or to throw tantrums until their parents buy them products that are advertised to them.

You know all those cute little ads for "Latest Must-Have Toy X" that show the kids rolling their eyes and giggling after their hopelessly un-hip dad makes some cheesy remark that betrays his utter cluelessness? Yep. That helps reinforce the basic idea that the kids already know better than their parents do. The more entitled kids feel, the likelier they are to really dig in their heels and demand their parents buy them the new deluxe Barbie Dream House or the Castle Grayskull play set (I'm probably dating myself with these particular examples, but you get the point).

If you want to find the culprits most responsible for fostering the culture of excessive entitlement that so many cultural critics see as pervading American culture, I say look no further than the advertising industry and its conjoined twin, the commercial media. A steady supply of spoiled brats are like life's blood to a consumer economy.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2009 [22 favorites]


like my paralegal explaining to me that they don't keep score or have outs in her son's baseball league

My son plays in a little league division where they don't keep an official score. They did keep score in his previous t-ball league (in Canada, if that matters). The next division up in his league, they keep score. Exactly what's so surprising that no one keeps track of a score that no one cares about in little league? In two years my son will be old enough to play in the league that tours, pitches fast enough to break somone's jaw if you took a pitch in the face and is starting to groom kids for college sports scholarships.

If you want another old saw to add to "Kids these days" dios, how about "they grow up so fast". There's no need to rush them. Perhaps I am one of a fading few that enjoys watching children simply be children.

As for FOX, the more I think about it (and I really need to stop because it's working me up) the more I realize that they're not complaining about Mr. Rogers. They're complaining about children. And childishness. It's a back-handed ploy to decry anything that's not "serious business". And I resent it. It's not anywhere withing a million miles of news or journalism. It's straight-up condemnation. It's nothing but a sermon of hate from a bully pulpit. Which is why I, for one, am a knee-jerk FOX basher. It's a reflex they've conditioned in me.
posted by GuyZero at 10:48 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The role models for today's college freshmen were Bratz   are CEOs and execs who whine about not getting bonuses, even though their companies have failed catastrophically.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:48 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


This may be true, but it's much more interesting for Mefi to have that conversation and bypass the redundant and played-out Fox News bashing.

A more interesting conversation is about how conservative media (which, yes, includes FOX News), through a concerted, decades-long attack on any public or left-of-right media forms, are attempting to smear the work of an acclaimed children's television host, which is what this post is about, in a substantial manner.

The attack doesn't have much to do with children being raised to be narcissists, but with going after someone who was affiliated with public television broadcasting, with the intent to attack public broadcasting itself, a long-standing target of the right-wing element. This war on the public voice has been given life by the efforts of conservatives like Murdoch and former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson.

In any case, discussions on Metafilter do not need to be controlled by Bill O'Reilly-esque conservative commenters. We can have the discussion ourselves.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:49 AM on April 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Financial people did such a good job with our economy that of course I'm going to turn to them for child-rearing advice.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:50 AM on April 6, 2009


I say look no further than the advertising industry and its conjoined twin, the commercial media

Because children never pestered their parents before the advent of television. And children in households without television are completely free of pestering.

Both of those statements are fairly easy to disprove, as is your proposition.

The issue is that children are easily bored and prefer to be amused by someone other than themselves. So they pester anyone around, typically their parents.

Being upset that children pester other people is like being upset that your dog needs to be walked and fed. Or that it rains.

Just like every generation thinks they're the first to discover alcohol or the first to rebel against parent authority, every generation seems to rediscover that kids are annoying. But only FOX news sees fit to take it all the way to "Film at 11".
posted by GuyZero at 10:53 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lets see...

I watched Sesame Street and Mr Rodgers neighborhood. But I was also spanked as a kid when I deserved it, so 2/3 "bad" items. I turned out OK.
posted by SirOmega at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2009


Is that the sort of lesson Mr. Rogers taught?

He would have wanted it that way.

A tear shed for the lost.
posted by jquinby at 10:59 AM on April 6, 2009


Colbert couldn't have said it any better, or funnier.
posted by not_on_display at 11:01 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


but guyzero, wouldn't a proliferation of non-essential, material goods mean a wider pool of things for children to nag and pester for? and that is what we see in the last half of the last century, yes? that, coupled with shrewd marketing which actively works to link self-identity with brand identity redefines (or at least shapes) the nature of that pestering.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:01 AM on April 6, 2009


Dear Fox News,

Here are the lyrics of a song that might help you:

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.
posted by ferdydurke at 11:03 AM on April 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


Also, these three video clips of Mr. Rogers, all aimed at adults, never fail to move me.
posted by ferdydurke at 11:06 AM on April 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


He's as close as America has ever come to producing a real-life saint, and it is a mark of how desperate some people are to create enemies to bolster a culture of blame that they can't even recognize real good when it walks among us.

What's even more bizarre about Fox News bashing Mr. Rogers is that Rogers was not only a Presbyterian minister, but I believe he was also a Republican. I once had a summer job working for the "cultural advisor" to the Governor of Pennsylvania during Governor Bob Casey's administration. I once naively asked why Mr. Rogers never got any cultural awards from the state of Pennsylvania, since he was a native son of Pittsburgh who filmed his show in that city. I was told that Mr. Rogers was thought to be a Republican and that he was close friends with Richard Thornburgh, the former Republican governor. Maybe Mr. Rogers was a Republican. That would only raise my estimation of Republicans more, not reduce my estimation of Mr. Rogers. (And I'm a staunch Democrat.) Maybe he was friendly with Dick Thornburgh, because he was friendly everybody. I don't know.

But this recent effusion from Fox News really lowers my opinion of the Republican Party. Regardless of what his partisan registration was, Mr. Rogers was an upright man who walked it like he talked it. I guess Fox News thinks Mr. Rogers is too non-hypocritical to qualify as a member of the GOP in good standing.
posted by jonp72 at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2009


But it strikes me that some witches' brew of bad-parenting and cultivated narcissism has resulted in lots of anecdotal surprises for me (like my paralegal explaining to me that they don't keep score or have outs in her son's baseball league).

Are you suggesting that this reflects on the kids' character somehow? (Unlikely — they almost certainly didn't decide on their own. More likely it reflects their parents.)

Or are you suggesting that it's causing the kids to have bad character? I'm open to the possibility that it is, but you haven't even given us anecdotal evidence for that. "They didn't keep score in her son's baseball league, and now her son's started throwing tantrums whenever he's corrected in class" — that would be an anecdote about cultivated narcissism. The story you told just shows us that there are lots of different — perhaps equally good — ways to organize a game. No big surprise there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:08 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


kldickson: "notsnot - I see you have not gotten the memo.

- atheist who hates it when people automatically equate 'good' with their belief of choice
"

Whu...? I was snarking on how the FOXers also complain about "secularists" and such. (my given name is 'Christian' which I joke was vain hope on Mom's part)
posted by notsnot at 11:09 AM on April 6, 2009


It's like saying women weren't concerned with their appearance before Elizabeth Arden came along. Sure, they exploit the underlying urge, but no marketer can create a human emotion that wasn't already there. They can only exploit them.

Part of my personal response to this issue is that if there's one thing I can't stand with the way some people parent, it's the belief that children should be somehow different from how they are. More polite, less annoying, less entitled, etc. I personally find it relaxing simply to take children as they are and not add the additional stress of wondering why they're not some other way. Not that I always like the way kids are mind you - kids can be very annoying. But I don't get all bent out of shape thinking they should be some other way. I just try my best to deal with them as is as there isn't any other way for them to be.
posted by GuyZero at 11:11 AM on April 6, 2009


Well, I think everyone is born with a certain sense of emotional entitlement, and it's up to life to suffocate their hopes and dreams teach them when it's appropriate for them to get what they want.

Obviously, some kids don't learn those lessons. I was watching MTV one day and they had an episode of "My Super Sweet Sixteen". There was this girl on there at a BMW dealership looking at SUVs and begging her dad to buy her one. She seemed to have the emotional maturity of a toddler.
posted by delmoi at 11:11 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


(And we'll win too, because we have Snuffleupagus and that guy is an incredible infiltrator. It's like he's invisible.)

Yeah, I hear he's got pictures of what Mitch McConnell has been doing with his "snuffle," if you know what I mean.
posted by jonp72 at 11:11 AM on April 6, 2009


The role models for today's college freshmen...are CEOs and execs who whine about not getting bonuses, even though their companies have failed catastrophically.

Exactly. For years, we've been hearing that greed is good. That if you're not earning enough to make ends meet, then it's because you're a loser. (And by the way, Losers, don't expect to get anything from us Winners.)

So fuck the journey. it's all about the reward. And if someone suggests you didn't earn what you got (as opposed to someone who risks or busts their ass for a living), you just point out what a winner you are. And demand your bonus.
posted by PlusDistance at 11:13 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I think children television should be more closely regulated, at least the commercials. Do we really need to be teaching them to CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME at such a young age?
posted by delmoi at 11:13 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh and by the way...Everyone knows Mr. Rogers wasn't behind any of this.
It was that bastard Friday the Thirteenth.
posted by PlusDistance at 11:17 AM on April 6, 2009


Children's TV needs no more regulation than lawn clippings because anyone with an ounce of sense feeds their kids equal amounts of each. They're about equal in developmental value.

and check that one off the moral superiority bingo card - if I can drop 'one parent stays at home' I totally get BINGO
posted by GuyZero at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2009


i dig where you are coming from, guyzero. i think what concerns me is the possibility that this type of marketing solidifies this childish entitlement into adult patterns of behavior.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2009


I really didn't like Mr. Rogers when I was a kid, but then again, I was kind of a cynical kid. I didn't believe that the other children were special snowflakes - I thought that they were really pretty awful. (Direct quote from myself at age six: "Mommy, I don't want to go to school today. The other children are insipid.")

So, I didn't buy into the "we're all special!" party line. And the puppets creeped me out. But hey! I turned out to be wrong! The Buddhism of my childhood and Bill Hicks did eventually teach me that we are all equal! We are all one human consciousness experiencing itself subjectively! And I think that, and not "you are entitled!" was Mr. Rogers' actual message in telling children that each and every one of them are special.

Also: If we're going to correctly identify the culprit of teaching children that they're "special," don't go hating on Mr. Rogers. Put the hate where it's deserved: squarely on the massive purple shoulders of Barney.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:22 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


There are college students who expect As not because they are special, but because they have paid for them, and paid quite a lot for them.

Anecdata (my experience, that of other folks of my acquaintance) suggests that undergraduate entitlement increases dramatically as you go up the academic food chain. The worst grade grubbers I've ever had were all at a Research I; my current undergraduates don't like Cs either (hence my reputation as the English Professor of Doom), but there's a heck of a lot less grumbling, grousing, and grievancing.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:26 AM on April 6, 2009


So I'm not arguing that marketers aren't trying to influence kids - I suppose my position is that marketing is such a pervasive part of everyday modern life that I can't really get worked up about it. A lot of things cause kids to adopt behavioural patterns as adults that aren't very useful (review AskMe's category of personal questions sometime). Every generation of kids has some burden to bear and some challenge to overcome. Learning that buying things doesn't make you happy may not make my kids the greatest generation, but that's the row they have to hoe. I'll take it over, say, my father-in-law who stole potatoes out of fields in post-war Germany to have something to eat as a child. Or my mom getting bombed as she fled the Communist invasion of Hungary as a child. My kids' problems with exploitative advertisers and their demand for video games are, frankly, pretty awesome problems and I tend not to worry about it.

Also, let me reiterate that FOX News sucks.
posted by GuyZero at 11:30 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


squarely on the massive purple shoulders of Barney.

This would have been easy pickings for FOX news. Or Dora, who I hate with the burning fire of a thousand suns. Plus she's stealing jobs from American TV characters! You'd think that woul dget FOX's ire up.
posted by GuyZero at 11:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That evil leering Mr. Rogers, attempting to corrupt our innocent American kids with . . . some semblance of self-confidence? Fox is useless and ridiculous. It's a little scarey that people watch that stuff.

Fox isn't a network, it's a symptom.
posted by metagnathous at 11:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fox [News] isn't a network, it's a symptom.

For years now, I've felt like Fox News was some odd fictional creation, a television network sprung out of some Gilliam Dystopia or perhaps a Network XXIII competitor. That it survives and is taken seriously frightens me. That other news networks are jockeying to find and cater to their own slice of the demographic pie raises my personal terror level to orange.

If the basis of a working Democracy is a well-informed populace, we are doing it wrong.
posted by hippybear at 11:39 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The sad irony in all this is that the youth I've seen who actually suffer from the sort of un-won entitlement that FOX is bemoaning are not at all the low self-esteem, everybody gets a trophy winners that Prof. Chance presumes have been artificially enabled by unconditional love. No, the entitled always seem to be exactly the same assholes who have always been told they deserve whatever they want because their parents have more money, or because they are better looking, or because they are more athletic. Meanwhile, the kids who actually need the self-esteem building are the ones left doing all the work that their more spoiled counterparts eschew. In other words, FOX is eating its own young.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:43 AM on April 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


well that certainly puts some perspective on things, guyzero. but for those of us who do not have any similar experiences or history (i am a solid member of one of the most pampered social classes/generations), we have to chose our battles. and this seems like a good one to me.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:44 AM on April 6, 2009


I think Fox just jumped the shark.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:53 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


There certainly is a conversation to be had about the possibilities that valuing kids as unique and individual might affect their work ethic in negative ways.

I value kids "as unique and individual." In fact, I value all human beings as unique and individual.

It's bizarre to me to see this as a problem. Could you diagram for me how this leads to "gimme an A"?
posted by palliser at 11:53 AM on April 6, 2009


Both of those statements are fairly easy to disprove, as is your proposition.

GuyZero: Do you have kids?

If you were an advertiser, would you pump billions of dollars into marketing techniques that weren't tested and objectively shown to be effective? No. That's why there's an abundance of hard industry data on the effectiveness of marketing techniques like these. If they didn't work, people wouldn't be able to afford to keep paying for them. Marketing has become an extremely sophisticated industry that draws some of the brightest talents away from the study of psychology (a friend of mine who who earned his PhD in psychology once confided in me that many of his most talented peers had been lured away from the clinical or pure research fields by the promise of higher earnings in the field of consumer/marketing psychology). Manipulating people's minds to sell them things is big money these days.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:53 AM on April 6, 2009


Hey, is this when the folks usually blaming Boomers for everything get old enough to start blaming their kids?
posted by CCBC at 11:56 AM on April 6, 2009


By the way, I agree with the consensus here that Mr. Rogers rocks. End of story. The man was a saint in my book, too.

But even if we were to have that "other more real conversation" dios suggests lies obscured somewhere beneath this latest BS slander from the partisan hacks over at Fox, the issue still comes out as a net loss for the political right, because marketplace excesses seem to be as likely culprits for aggravating the cultural problems they claim to see as any other factor one could point to.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2009


To address the tangent of Don Chance:

As a grad student/college instructor, I have a very different opinion (also unsupported by research) of why some students feel entitled to high grades. It isn't because Mr. Rogers told them they were perfect, but because they have been raised to think of education as a consumer product. You pay for it, you get what you want, and if you aren't satisfied, it is time to complain. They also believe, due to the culture of "teaching to the test," that there is some sort of very simple contractual relationship: material is presented to them, they reproduce/regurgitate that at the bare minimum following stated guidelines, and they expect an A. As I tell my students, fulfilling the requirements of the assignments gets you a C; you get an A for exceptional work that goes above and beyond the contractual minimums.

That's my 2c.

And I love Mr. Rogers.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Do I have kids? Geez, you'd be able to find my kids on satellite maps from the way I talk about them here.

My point is not that advertiser do or do not target kids. Of course they do and of course these techniques work. They work for both adults and kids. If all these people are so goddman brilliant, how come they haven't been able to come up with a better technique for selling than half-naked women? it didn't take a PhD to come up with American Apparel's ad campaign. And even as a child I understood the relationship between GI Joe the cartoon, the comic book and the action figures. I think you overestimate the obviousness of these techniques.

My point is that advertisers did not invent kids nagging parents any more than they invented female vanity or male machismo. They exploit what was already there.

Also, did you know that they no longer talk about grass stains in laundry detergent commercials anymore because the "grass" stains actually come from clover which has been wiped out by the broad use of broad-leaf herbicides on most residential lawns?

The kids in "little house on the prairie" nagged their parents. And, if you read the book, those girls saw maybe two stores in 3 or 4 years. But when they saw one, they knew what it meant: hard candy. Sugar. Pretty fabric for dresses. Of course, they got the tar beat out of the offscreen for asking for anything, but they did it. Mozart put up with his crazy father turning him into a child prodigy and dragging him all over Europe like a trained dog because of his inescapable desire to be with his father, to love his father and to have his father demonstrate love for him. God only knows what horrors have been wrought on the world by men who were trying to please their fathers (Paul Martin Jr, AMIRITE??)

This is a very long way of saying that yes, while the world has changed, people have not fundamentally changed and (bust out the Logic 101 here) since children are people, they haven't really changed much either.
posted by GuyZero at 12:12 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I do find the underlying topic much more interesting and worthy of discussion: what is the source of the overwhelming sense of entitlement among children and has there been a noticeable change in the degree of that in recent times?

Dios, I think that this has already been covered:

“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.”--Socrates.

Now, don't you have some kids to chase off your lawn?
posted by John of Michigan at 12:18 PM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


It isn't because Mr. Rogers told them they were perfect, but because they have been raised to think of education as a consumer product. You pay for it, you get what you want, and if you aren't satisfied, it is time to complain.

This is the smartest thing I have read in this thread; thanks, Saxon Kane.

And, c'mon, isn't it clear the FOX comments on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood are just another salvo in the decades-long campaign by U.S. conservatism against all things PBS? One of these days some batch of right-wingers are going to get around to calling those weekend Lawrence Welk re-runs the work of terrorists.
posted by aught at 12:19 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meh. We all just got played: FOX is trolling for ratings, nothing more.
posted by aquafortis at 12:19 PM on April 6, 2009


While on production in Canada, Rogers brought with him his friend and understudy, Ernie Coombs, who would go on to create "Mr. Dressup", a very successful and long running children's show in Canada which, in many ways, was similar to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Mr. Dressup had also used some of the songs that would later go on Rogers' later program.

Wow. The singularity does exist.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:22 PM on April 6, 2009


Yeah, the hell with Mr. Rogers. It's far better that girls watch shows that teach them how to buy things so that they can be pretty pretty princesses and boys watch shows that teach them how to buy things so that they can be musclebound warriors. Words fail me.

All my son's friends called me by my first name, and my son called his friend's moms by their first names. They've all grown up to be a wonderful bunch of kids.
posted by jokeefe at 12:24 PM on April 6, 2009


they got the tar beat out of the offscreen for asking for anything

Aagh do you really know this to be true about Pa Ingalls? It sounds like you're raising your own kids really well, but I'm afraid you just ruined my childhood retroactively. Thanks.
posted by palliser at 12:24 PM on April 6, 2009


the conversation keeps turning to children, but isn't the deeper issue what cultural factors (mr. rogers/marketing/dr.spock/take-your-pick) produce adults with a childlike sense of narcissism. granted, kids can be greedy little holy terrors. the issue is how do cultural factors influence the transition from child-values to adult ones? do they contribute to or retard this development?
posted by barrett caulk at 12:26 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


> the issue still comes out as a net loss for the political right, because marketplace excesses seem to be as likely culprits for aggravating the cultural problems they claim to see as any other factor one could point to.

But deregulated markets are the answer to all our societal ails, not the cause!

> because of his inescapable desire to be with his father, to love his father and to have his father demonstrate love for him.

The problem is that now, it's not looking for love of a parent, but for the calming soothing sensation of material possession. There is something quite different in the level and focus of the marketing (and it's intent) in the last 40+ odd years than anything prior to it. Before it was talk about just trying to sell a singular product (just the hard candy, just the fabric), now those companies are coordinating together, and realized that there is so much more money to be made if they encourage a consumerist tendency in children, contrary to any and all things about eventual societal impacts. You might not see it in your own children because you are inable to interface with them and prevent it's influence. Not everyone has that luxury, or now, we have second wave consumer creatures raising children.

And really, people will still justify it on the grounds of "well our companies job is to make money, this helps us make money, and there is nothing saying we shouldn't do this. Just because it is unethical doesn't make it illegal."
posted by mrzarquon at 12:28 PM on April 6, 2009


They certainly don't dwell on it, but it's alluded to that Pa spanks the girls for stuff like talking on Sunday. No child on earth can spend an entire day in a one-room cabin with nothing but a paper doll and a copy of the Bible for entertainment without something putting the fear of God in them. it would be fairly strange for any parent back then not to spank their kids - it was pretty much the norm.
posted by GuyZero at 12:29 PM on April 6, 2009


Aagh do you really know this to be true about Pa Ingalls? It sounds like you're raising your own kids really well, but I'm afraid you just ruined my childhood retroactively. Thanks.

Pa Ingalls was a mean drunk, and used to beat the girls unconscious. Mary's blindness was believed to be a result of a particularly viscious "Christmas Present." Shortly after that, little Carrie was sold to Mr. Edwards for a bushel of corn (same as in town).

Or at least that was the way we played it with Barbies and GI Joes.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:34 PM on April 6, 2009


Professor Don Chance's Favorite rock quotes here.

That link is amazing, and not just because he confesses an inabilty to articulate why he likes them. He just knows that he kinda does. And the guy is tone deaf-- he may be the only person, ever, to take away these lines from Garden Party: "Yoko brought a walrus
There was magic in the air" rather than the ones everybody remembers: "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself." And his taste in Springsteen lyrics is even worse. Out of all that Springsteen wrote, he chooses "But time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days"? And everyone knows that the pivotal lines in The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald are "at 7 p.m. the main hatchway caved in, he said 'Fellas, it's been good to know ya.'" Feh. But what do you expect from a man who could blame Mr. Rogers-- Mr. Rogers!-- for causing bad behaviour?

It's because Mr. Rogers talked about Feelings. Pussy, wimpy, who the hell needs them Feelings. Feelings that could be easily ignored, drowned out, or boozed away, the way real men do. Who the hell needs Feelings and all that pansy stuff? It's weakening the backbone of youth!
posted by jokeefe at 12:34 PM on April 6, 2009


but for the calming soothing sensation of material possession

That people seek to assuage emotional pain with material goods is also not a new phenomenon IMO. Like many things, it is more popular now than ever, but I don't think it's novel. Being a dilettante Buddhist, what you're describing is the second noble truth. Thank goodness someone thought up the eightfold path for us well in advance of integrated cross-channel marketing.
posted by GuyZero at 12:39 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pa Ingalls was a mean drunk, and used to beat the girls unconscious. Mary's blindness was believed to be a result of a particularly viscious "Christmas Present." Shortly after that, little Carrie was sold to Mr. Edwards for a bushel of corn (same as in town).

Well he did rip them away from their extended family for the promises of a better life that never, ever materialized. He played a mean fiddle, but the record shows he was a pretty mediocre bread-winner.

But if anyone deserved a beating, it was that Nellie Olsen bitch. If I was Pa I would have given that little shit the taste of the back of my hand.

and then I would have got lynched
posted by GuyZero at 12:42 PM on April 6, 2009


I know a Faux-news devotee who's convinced that Mr. Rogers was a pedophile. And this was before this morning.
posted by lysdexic at 12:49 PM on April 6, 2009


Fuck that noise. These people clearly have no clue what they are talking about. They've never listened to a single word Mr. Rogers said.

from the mentalFloss article about memorable commencement addresses:

Mr. Rogers was a regular on the graduation circuit. We chose his 1995 address at WVU because it was unlike so many “you can do whatever you want!” pep talks. He illustrated the message “wishing isn’t enough” through a story about trying to become a Broadway composer. As a freshman, he landed an interview with a famous songwriter, and was prepared to drop out of school to realize his dream.“That’s not what happened. The famous composer was very welcoming to me. He asked me to play a couple of those original songs for him, and he listened intently while I played them and sang the words as well as I could. When I was finished, he said, ‘Very nice, Fred. Now, how many songs have you written?’ I told him five, and I had brought them all. Then he said something that has become very important to me. He said, ‘I’d like you to come back after you’ve written a barrel-full, and we’ll talk again.’”Mr. Rogers ended on a high note: “After the initial disappointment, I got to work; and through the years, one by one, I have written a barrel-full of songs…I wished to be a songwriter, and I attached my work to my wish and that wish came true."
posted by Freen at 12:51 PM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


God, Fox, that hurts. What are you doing?
posted by grobstein at 12:53 PM on April 6, 2009


Ya know, when YouTube comments are more rational than Faux news, that should tell you something:
Well said. People can blabber on and on about their religion, but without strong moral values and true character like Mr. Rogers, your religion is meaningless and irrelevant.
posted by lysdexic at 12:53 PM on April 6, 2009


Some people's shit lists are the only right places to be.
posted by Forrest Greene at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Threads like this, and fox news in general, make me wish that Mr. Rogers had devoted some time on his show to teaching children how to ignore sensationalist shitstirring in the media.
posted by sleevener at 12:59 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Professor Don Chance's Favorite rock quotes here.
...
That link is amazing


For serious, I can't believe people are still talking about Fox News when this is so clearly the highlight of the thread. It's like the other day, when people wanted to discuss the MLK post-assassination pictures rather than the fact that the OP spelled the dude's name "Martian Luther King". Some people in the thread were like, "Get over the goddamn typo already," but I'm all, "Dude, the concept of 'Martian Luther King' is like the greatest thing I've heard all month."
posted by Greg Nog at 1:03 PM on April 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


lysdexic : I know a Faux-news devotee who's convinced that Mr. Rogers was a pedophile. And this was before this morning.

Maybe give them this link:

"You know, it's quite a strange thing. The single most common adjective applied to Mister Rogers in this and other thread is the word 'creepy'?"

Probably one of my favorite comments ever made here, and one that might provide them some insight into why people find Mr. Rogers odd.
posted by quin at 1:17 PM on April 6, 2009


Wait, so this is an April Fools joke, right?
posted by ilovemytoaster at 1:17 PM on April 6, 2009


"Fox News" is an oxymoron. The idea of such programming is not so much to inform as it is to get attention. Attention = viewers, viewers = ad sales.

That being said, I find the argument that any child would develop a sense of narcissism from having been spoken to with dignity and respect, or from having been invited to develop his or her minds through observation and creative imagination, one born of severe misinformation.

Children are special. Each child has a set of talents, a set of strengths. Mister Rogers' approach was to reinforce a child's sense of esteem and self-worth, and accomplishment. Children should feel proud of their milestones, and so should their parents and caretakers. You don't just build up a child that way, you build up an entire world.

I grew up on Mister Rogers. So did my children. No one in my family has yet managed to fall into either narcissism or a wanton sense of entitlement.
posted by hubbit at 1:22 PM on April 6, 2009


R. Mutt: Professor Don Chance's Favorite rock quotes here.

jokeefe: That link is amazing, and not just because he confesses an inabilty to articulate why he likes them. He just knows that he kinda does. And the guy is tone deaf...

Oh, come on, jokeefe - you're just being hard on the guy! 'Tone deaf?' He can't be that bad...

My Personal Hall of Fame of 25 Rock Hits

(Don Chance)

This is an evolving list. It will never contain more than 25 songs but I do expect it to change as my interests and tastes change and as I come to like other songs.

(listed alphabetically)

Angie (Rolling Stones): the Stones' best ballad; some great guitar and piano work

Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty): the joy of sax

Black Velvet (Alannah Myles): This tribute to Elvis captures the essence of the Memphis sound of Elvis

Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen): best open road song

The Boys of Summer (Don Henley): Great guitar work

Broken Wings (Mr. Mister): just a great song; enough said; this song resonates deep inside of me

Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd): as the Red Cross says, a classic song

Constant Craving (k.d. laing): some of the best harmony

Crazy for You (Madonna): most sensuous song

Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins): fast and loud but way too short

Hard Habit to Break (Chicago): a new edition, this beautiful piece has great sequences of two- and three-part vocals

Hotel California (Eagles): bizarre story with great guitar work; especially the acoustic version

I Found Someone (Cher): her finest work on a great song written by Michael Bolton; also some great hard rock guitar riffs[koeselitz: emphasis mine]

I'm Not in Love (10cc): great way to tell off an ex

Live to Tell (Madonna): another guy-bashing song but I like it nonetheless

Long, Long Time (Linda Ronstadt): a little sentimentally whiny but the violins are great

Look Away (Chicago): A great song written by one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Diane Warren, and sung by one of the most versatile musicians, Bill Champlin; however, the current version they're doing in concert is awful

Mainstreet (Bob Seeger): like a piece of Americana; it belongs in the Smithsonian

Maybe I'm Amazed (Wings): best piano rock song

Oh, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison): maybe the most popular song of all time

Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough (Patty Smyth with Don Henley): A recent addition

Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin): a rock classic; every new guitarist learns this one

Start Me Up (Rolling Stones): Great for booting up your PC

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills and Nash): Strange song written by Stills for ex-girlfriend, July Collins; try to figure it out; also this song is probably one of the greatest guitar arrangements in all of music

Waiting for a Girl Like You (Foreigner): Always been crazy about this one; don't know why

posted by koeselitz at 1:30 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


GuyZero: Sorry if my question about whether you had kids seemed like some rhetorical accusation--I was really just curious to know, because I think it changes one's perspective. For my part, it just pisses me off in ways I can't describe to know there are so-called human beings sitting around in a lecture hall or conference room somewhere right now methodically plotting ways--whether effective or not--to deliberately create a rift in my relationship with my son in order to sell more shitty consumer products.

But yes, of course, your general point is correct: marketers didn't invent nagging. That's not the point of those marketing techniques. The point of them is to prime and leverage kid's existing natural tendencies and to direct them toward specific products. But in general, isn't it hard to deny that the natural human tendency toward an exaggerated sense of personal entitlement isn't one of the chief emotional buttons advertisers push? ("You deserve a break today."; "You're way right away."; "Because you're worth it."; etc.) Our media landscape is dominated by themes of personal entitlement. That can't help but influence us at least in some small way, in my opinion.

I can't resist reproducing this passage from the Consumer/Marketing Psychology university program description from the link in my earlier comment, just to give a sense of just how sociopathic in character the field of Consumer Psychology really is:

John B. Watson was the first prominent psychologist to apply psychology to advertising... He interestingly designed ads for Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. With doing so, he played on new mothers' anxieties and feelings of incompetence about properly caring for their children. He recognized and exploited not only the power of emotional appeals in advertising, but also the impact of experts who recommended products, and the presentation of products as new or improved.

/long derail
posted by saulgoodman at 1:31 PM on April 6, 2009


Let me be clear about why this angers me.

Mr. Rogers is the standard to which I hold myself, and, every day, find myself having come up short. He was kind, he cared, he tried to understand, he tried to teach, he was friendly, he was open, he was sympathetic, he was honest, he was humble, and he was good.

I am mean, and I am hard, and I am impatient, and I am boastful, and I am unsympathetic, and I am pessimistic, and I am gossipy, and I honestly often dislike other people. I excuse it sometimes, because I can be funny and original and creative, and these things sometimes seem fueled by misbehavior. And my misbehavior is mild, and I try to keep the worst of it private and show people a friendlier, more pleasant side.

I don't know that I'll ever be like Mr. Rogers. But, when I am at my best, I try to be like him. And, when the world is at its worst, I am glad there was a man like him, because he showed it was possible to be good, and that's a rare thing to see.

And if FOX thinks they can take him on and not look like miserable creatures, they're going after the wrong guy. The man may have died, but his legacy of goodness is stronger than anything they can muster. He added to the world, and what he added cannot be subtracted, even by men who would like to turn heroes into villains for the sake of some cheap potshots.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:32 PM on April 6, 2009 [26 favorites]


Mr. Rogers is the standard to which I hold myself, and, every day, find myself having come up short. He was kind, he cared, he tried to understand, he tried to teach, he was friendly, he was open, he was sympathetic, he was honest, he was humble, and he was good.

I am mean, and I am hard, and I am impatient, and I am boastful, and I am unsympathetic, and I am pessimistic, and I am gossipy, and I honestly often dislike other people. I excuse it sometimes, because I can be funny and original and creative, and these things sometimes seem fueled by misbehavior. And my misbehavior is mild, and I try to keep the worst of it private and show people a friendlier, more pleasant side.


I feel like it's Yom Kippur all over again...

posted by inigo2 at 1:50 PM on April 6, 2009


I totally forgot about Yom Kippur this year. But I'm planning on drinking A LOT OF WINE for Passover.

Mr. Rogers can you ever forgive me?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:53 PM on April 6, 2009


So, saulgoodman, I hear you. There's no ethical justification for that kind of calculated advertising.

However I have yelled at my kids for spending too much time picking up pinecones while on a forest hike. Which helps me realize that ultimately my kids could find a way of annoying me anywhere and the only person responsible for my relationship with my kids is myself. I'm getting way more Zen in my old age. The marketers can have nothing that I have decided not to give them.

That can't help but influence us at least in some small way, in my opinion.

It influences us completely. On the plus side, when you have two kids they can't agree on anything so as long as you only buy one of everything the kid's differing influences cancel each other out. We drove by a dozen fast-food places on the weekend and ended up a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint for lunch Sunday watching the Giants home opener on TV because the kids can't agree on a mutually acceptable fast food other than a locally owned-and-operate pizzeria. Ha ha ad agencies, you suck.

However, at least one of my kids considers a bowl of raw broccoli and plain tofu a good dinner, so I should make it clear that we're freaks.

Oh, and:

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
Gordon Lightfoot


Dear God, those are the least good lyrics in the whole song! Indeed, "at 7 p.m. the main hatchway caved in/he said 'Fellas, it's been good to know ya.'" are the pivotal lyrics but is there a more moving line than the final refrain "Superior, it's said, never gives up her dead/When the gales of November come early."

And he includes at least a couple of English acts (Rod Stewart, the Kinks) and a CANADIAN (dear God) so I conclude that Prof Chance is, in fact, not even a Real American(tm). Otherwise the whole page would have been Kid Rock lyrics.

Also: let me reiterate that FOX news are a bunch of fascist demagogues.
posted by GuyZero at 2:00 PM on April 6, 2009


My go-to history anecdote for these types of stories is this, When the teddy Bear was introduced, there was some op-ed piece about how damaging such toys could be because they would make children think that life was always going to soft and comfortable and make them weak-willed and un-manly.

That's the fun part about reading newspapers from a hundred fucking years ago. The Outraged! Editorials! aren't just similar , they're IDENTICAL. you could run them nearly unedited and they would still get published today.

I actually, I'm pretty sure that's who "Theodore Dalrymple" is. I'm not sure.
posted by The Whelk at 2:06 PM on April 6, 2009


If you have a spoiled kid, it isn't the kid's fault s/he's spoiled, and it isn't Mr. Rogers' fault.

It's the fault of the parents who turn the TV on don't pay attention to what the kid is watching, or doesn't say "no" when the kid nags "buy me that" or...

Mind you, this is not an anti-all-TV screed. Hell, my mother let me watch SESAME STREET when I was 2, and it taught me how to read. I was reading on my own at the age of 3. (Freaked the HELL out of my parents.) Nor is it an all-parents-suck screed. The parents I've heard speak in here are doing the right thing. But not al parents are that smart or that involved, or they're trying to be their kid's "friend" rather than their parent, and THEIR kids are the ones who are the entitled fuckwits. For lo, such parents certainly exist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:31 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Relax people. Ed Anger has clearly come back to life and is now fully in charge over at Fox. Let's sit back and enjoy the absurdity.
posted by Otis at 2:52 PM on April 6, 2009


Who the fuck is Mr. Rogers?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:19 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a great web site called Google, turgid dahlia, maybe you should try it sometime. They've got lots of stuff about Mister Rogers there.
posted by grouse at 3:45 PM on April 6, 2009


Mr Rogers is what would have happened if the Wiggles had a soul (or at least one soul between the four of them). Hopefully that Oz-ifies it enough for you.
posted by GuyZero at 3:50 PM on April 6, 2009


Wait until FOX News gets a hold of Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood.
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on April 6, 2009


As children were given Teddy Bears made of concertina wire, porcupine quills, and crow skulls. But it was the little purse and matching wrap made of poison ivy leaves that turned my brother gay.
posted by tkchrist at 4:34 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another lachrymose Mr. Rogers thread.

Mr. Rogers was a saint.
He drove a beat-up Impala.
He loved you.

Get over it!

PS: Post useful for keeping up to date on how ridiculously low Fox "News" can go without actually having to watch regularly.
posted by cogneuro at 4:37 PM on April 6, 2009


Ah yes, threads like this bring out the best in Metafilter: I got through approximately 1/4 of the thread and didn't read one substantial argument for or against the essential argument of the piece. Instead I read diatribe after diatribe about how FOX is evil and conservatives = bad for hating on Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

Could we please get beyond the histrionics ever FOX's blatantly inflammatory style and move toward the essence of the issue, which, if we parse it out a bit, could be summarized as: is it possible that the child rearing techniques fashioned by Fred Rogers and Dr. Spock may have contributed to the narcissism and social apathy of today by focusing on how special and unique each little child is.

I believe someone else mentioned the Tyler Durdenesque backlash against the special, unique snowflakes and there may be something to it. Is it possible that once you get millions of people thinking they're unique and special enough that old sense of social cohesion goes out the window as people become so self-centered that they forget about the social good?

I think Fred Rogers was a great man and injected some great ideas into child rearing. But I also notice a significant shift in the way that many of my friends are raising their children as compared to how we were raised - as if there is a bit of recognition that perhaps the Rogers/Spock methodology swung the pendulum a bit too far in laxness.
posted by tgrundke at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2009


You think Don Chance's taste in music is bad?

Take a look at his "my personal hall of fame 25 movies", which includes such gems as:

Dead Poets' Society: Robin Williams' finest dramatic performance

Patch Adams: Another fine comedy-drama performance of Robin Williams; new edition to this list.

Mrs. Doubtfire: Robin Williams's finest comedy performance
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:55 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What makes this especially hilarious/apalling is how misinformed it is. Yes it's Fox News but still. What made Mr. Rogers stand out was that while he told kids they were special he also taught them they were part of a larger picture. He took his viewers on trips to the grocery store and recycling center. He visited people working and asked them about their jobs. He showed films in Picture Picture on how things are made. He took us with him when he talked to artists and visited museums. There was The Land of Make Believe but it was very clear it was a seperate place, a wonderful and needed place but not somewhere to lose yourself and forget about your responsibilities. He understood that childhood is a precious time because it doesn't last forever. He didn't turn out coddled brats clinging to fantasies he turned out healthy kids ready to learn and play and ready to grow up.
posted by Ruby Stevens at 7:00 PM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


narcissism and social apathy of today

Were people of the past less narcissistic or socially apathetic? Please demonstrate.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:19 PM on April 6, 2009


by focusing on how special and unique each little child is.

But that is not the sum total of what either Dr. Spock or Mr. Rogers said or taught. It is, however, what Fox News would like us to believe is responsible for the alleged rise in entitled kids.
posted by rtha at 7:25 PM on April 6, 2009



I'm Not in Love (10cc): great way to tell off an ex


WHAT

Forget about the stuff this guy said about Mister Rogers -- the way this guy COMPLETELY MISSES THE POINT of this song is the REAL travesty here.
posted by chowflap at 7:32 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know who else focused on how all are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? That's right: a bunch of dead commie candyasses!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:37 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that those that believe Fred Rogers espoused a feel-good, "special snowflake" egalatarian philosophy would do themselves a service by watching the Archive of American Television Interview where he discusses his views about children's television, and why it's important. (all nine parts) [via]
posted by anifinder at 7:51 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could we please get beyond the histrionics ever FOX's blatantly inflammatory style and move toward the essence of the issue, which, if we parse it out a bit, could be summarized as: is it possible that the child rearing techniques fashioned by Fred Rogers and Dr. Spock may have contributed to the narcissism and social apathy of today by focusing on how special and unique each little child is.

Certainly we can discuss something SIMILAR to that. But your question is nonsense from the start, as neither Dr. Spock nor Fred Rogers advocate the kind of child rearing of which they are accused in the original article. Or rather, the answer to your proposed discussion question will be a resounding "negative", because the underlying assumptions about what both of those men taught is false.

Oh, and just in case it is still not clear, Dr. Spock's philosophy is not the same as Mr. Rogers'.
posted by hippybear at 8:06 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


To continue:

Maybe I'm Amazed (Wings): best piano rock song

Wings? Wings? Am I missing something here?

Also: Mr Mister, Cher, and his favourite Rolling Stones song (besides the awful 'Angie') is 'Start Me Up'. Because you can boot up your PC to it. He also hates people who don't answer their email quickly enough ("How long does one have to wait before feeling like you're making a pest of yourself by asking the person a question for a second time? Or why is it that you can email someone and they either do not reply or they give you a very short reply in relation to the length of your email. You went to the trouble of emailing them about a number of things and they just address a few of your points.") and people who complain about WalMart. He sounds like a special kind of snowflake himself.
posted by jokeefe at 9:29 PM on April 6, 2009


ETA: Well I'll be damned, Maybe I'm Amazed actually is a Wings song. It's good enough that I thought it was late Beatles. Huh.
posted by jokeefe at 9:34 PM on April 6, 2009


Read I'm Proud of You by Tim Madigan. When I picked up the book at the library, and saw his previous books were about the race riots in Tulsa in '21 and about David Koresh's Holy War. "Ha ha," I said. "Of course after that, it must have been a relief to write a book about Mister Rogers."

I still haven't read Madigan's other books, but it's clear that I'm Proud of You must have been the most emotionally wrenching and difficult to write -- that he'd look on doing another death and destruction book as the relief. Rogers' unconditional love cut through his bullshit, leaving him facing what's underneath.

In the months since, I've bought The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember and Mister Rogers Talks With Parents.

I have no kids. But I am working on doing a better job of raising myself.
posted by Zed at 10:47 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Broken Wings (Mr. Mister): just a great song; enough said; this song resonates deep inside of me


Imagine a middle-aged man, with his eyes closed, nodding his head in pained empathy because BROKEN FUCKING WINGS resonates deep inside him. It resonates because he is a hollow shell of a man with no understanding of actual human emotion.
posted by minifigs at 2:10 AM on April 7, 2009


I got through approximately 1/4 of the thread and didn't read one substantial argument for or against the essential argument of the piece

Try reading the other 3/4 of the thread then.
posted by nudar at 3:34 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well I'll be damned, Maybe I'm Amazed actually is a Wings song. It's good enough that I thought it was late Beatles.

Yeah, I've always assumed that the good Wings songs were Linda's.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:31 AM on April 7, 2009




From Fox... doesn't surprise me.

I grew up watching Sesame Street and Mr Rogers. I worked hard to get where I am. I didn't feel like I was entitled to anything. Did I just disprove their study?

FOX = the Devil!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:46 AM on April 7, 2009


I think a lot of the animus towards Mr. Rogers is that he understood his audience was very young children and created a persona that most appealed to and least alarmed them. He is relaxed. He talks in a clear quiet voice and moves slowly and easily. He is the epitome of gentle. There is no violence in him, no macho. He does not play that. He does not speak down to four year olds. He does not tease. There is no attitude in him.

And it works. Witness any clip What Fred Rogers in public contexts over the years. At any event where he shows up, any kid that can barely walk, runs, makes a beeline and runs up to hug him. They are thrilled and enthralled. What a baby magnet he is.

And yet what makes him so attractive to the very young--his gentleness, his complete lack of threat--is what makes him anathema to children from grade school on up, is he's not ever going to hit anyone or talk trash. Or raise his voice or horse around.

Mr. Rogers don't play that. He's not going to make any alarming move. He always speaks softly. His persona is so empty of any conceptual hint of what is considered manly or macho. The very things that make him so attractive to very young children are part of what makes him seem so creepy to some.
posted by y2karl at 6:09 AM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


What makes this especially hilarious/apalling is how misinformed it is.

That's Fox for you. They incorrectly identify the sources of problems that don't exist.
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


A more interesting conversation is about how conservative media (which, yes, includes FOX News), through a concerted, decades-long attack on any public or left-of-right media forms, are attempting to smear the work of an acclaimed children's television host, which is what this post is about, in a substantial manner.

This may be a possibility, although it was the original professor himself who added the Mister Rogers angle.

What's more likely to me is that this researcher (or the San Diego state researchers mentioned) wanted to discuss the long-term effects of a shift in parent's use of praise (Something that's already been discussed) and decided that the "you're special" aspect sounded vaguely like something a beloved tv host said, thus creating an easy headline.

It could have just as easily been research into the impact of multi-ethnic neighbourhoods on social capital which led them to use Mister Rogers' "won't you be my neighbour?" as some sort of philosophical position. Clearly both of these positions are either absurd or even offensive, as you mentioned, but your post seems to imply that the underlying issues are thus not worth mentioning. The original post was just as much about the underlying issue as the debasement of Mister Rogers, for the record.
posted by Adam_S at 6:48 AM on April 7, 2009


I got through approximately 1/4 of the thread and didn't read one substantial argument for or against the essential argument of the piece.

Well, A for effort, I guess.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:54 AM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The very things that make him so attractive to very young children are part of what makes him seem so creepy to some.

Actually, the the absence of creepy that always jumped out at me. I was brainstorming a sketch with a group a few years ago and it was all perverted child-tv characters. The standard "everyone is an addict and/or pedophile" thing. When we got to Mr. Rodgers, we couldn't make any joke work. We literally couldn't imagine him doing anything creepy that wasn't forced or hamfisted.

He really was just that earnest and sympathetic and devoted to the idea of helping young children. Some people don't like that kind of naked sincerity and lack of posturing. It makes them uncomfortable when someone else isn't playing their little "hey lets all pretend we're really cool and macho and stuff!" make believe game, which I think is the source of some people's unease around Mr. Fred Rodgers.

Which is a pity, cause in 200 years people are somehow going to use his Word as justification for invading The United Federation Of Texas or something.
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I agree with you on his true lack of creepy--I should have said something like which some people claim to find creepy, perhaps.

....Some people don't like that kind of naked sincerity and lack of posturing. It makes them uncomfortable when someone else isn't playing their little "hey lets all pretend we're really cool and macho and stuff!" make believe game, which I think is the source of some people's unease around Mr. Fred Rodgers.

Well, I agree with you on his true lack of creepy--I should have said something like which some people claim to find creepy, perhaps. And yours is the point I was trying to make. He presents a model that challenges any concept of attitude, any pretense of toughness or being in any way threatening. The lack of it challenges any boy over five concerned with the whole concept of being a man.

Here one could perhaps point the finger at the commodification of attitude, cool and hip. For me, it struck when, way back in the 80s, when ABC TV put an animated backwards baseball cap on their Saturday Cartoon Logo. And as for any decline in the common taste, when you stop and think about it, that is what FOX is all about on the Entertainment tip. Special snowflakes are bought, not born. Bratz indeed. The market has spoken. As Kelly once quipped in Married with Children: ''The prostitution rests.'' Blame your corporate masters, oh generation of Wilford Brimleys.
posted by y2karl at 8:09 AM on April 7, 2009


Broken Wings (Mr. Mister): My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone
posted by fullerine at 9:15 AM on April 7, 2009


This morning, my 2-year-old and I were at the library (in Mr. Rogers's real-life neighborhood, incidentally). We saw a book with his picture on it, and my son said, "That's Mr. Roger. He loves me."

That's the sense he gives every child. It's beautiful. Anyone who could see something wrong in that has a dried-up, sad little soul.
posted by palliser at 4:37 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, because I have not commented in this thread nearly enough, actually watching the clip from FOX totally melted my mind. This "researcher" is blaming grade inflation in colleges on Mister Rogers?? On the basis that "Asian" students complain less? It's nothing but a vast amalgam of non-sequiters loosely connected by all being things that grumpy people hate in a vague way. Because by all means, the only noticeable difference between Asians and White folks is that we white folks watched Mr. Rogers as kids. Other than that, you know, the entire basis of Confucian cultures is pretty much the same as what they have in Kansas.
posted by GuyZero at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2009


Man, I really miss Mr. Rogers.
posted by yeti at 6:08 PM on April 7, 2009


Other than that, you know, the entire basis of Confucian cultures is pretty much the same as what they have in Kansas.

A little more filial piety, a little less using instruments of barbarism at the dinner table.
posted by grobstein at 8:37 PM on April 7, 2009


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