"It’s Mommy’s friend, Fred"
November 30, 2019 10:33 PM   Subscribe

There’s a lot of talk about Mister Rogers these days. The release of the new feature film with Tom Hanks has prompted renewed discussion about Rogers’s kindness, his groundbreaking approach to children’s programming, about how all of us of a certain age associate him with a gentler, simpler time. But intertwined with all of the current chatter is the implied message that the original “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” series, while loved and appreciated by adults, is part of a bygone era and would never (ever!) fly with today’s iPad-loving, Fortnite-obsessed youth. I discovered just how wrong that assumption is. WaPo | non-WaPo
posted by Johnny Wallflower (14 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Every time we have a thread about Mr. Rogers, I live in dread that someone, somewhere is going to pierce the aura of damn near universal love the man gets. Thankfully, not this time. The comments from the kids reminds me of something that both my wife and mom have said in the past when teaching high schoolers - the biggest gift you can give to them is to hear them and recognize their individuality, their peoplehood and like them for it.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:46 PM on November 30, 2019 [31 favorites]


Well, shoot. I'm way too drunk on unfamiliarly expensive whiskey and the meanness of the city and I'm earnestly and honestly exhausted from visiting a whole lot of friends on my holiday travel and doing a lot of emotional labor for people I care about - and I am, right now, so faded and jaded I might as well be copper patina (or, ok, fine - jadeite) and so bitter I might as well be Fernet dumped in a dead quad long shot of espresso.

And yet I want to watch some Mr. Rogers right now.

Fred Rogers sure taught me a lot about how to be curious, gentle, understanding and forgiving.
posted by loquacious at 1:54 AM on December 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


loquacious you can watch here
https://pbskids.org/video/mister-rogers/
posted by gryftir at 2:18 AM on December 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


My son watched a fair bit of Mr Rogers a couple years ago (he especially loved the "let's go visit a factory and find it how $thing is made" episodes). It's definitely still a thing kids watch. And Fred Rogers Productions still makes some of the best TV for young children out there.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:42 AM on December 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


Having a discouraging morning. So I checked out the link posted by gryftir. Watched an entire episode. And damned if it didn’t make me feel better. So, thanks. I’ll be watching more. (Irony: I grew up in the Pittsburgh area in the 1960s but forewent the Neighborhood for the spicier Captain Kangaroo. Now I finally get it.)
posted by kinnakeet at 7:42 AM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


“And he’s not too loud,” my son added. “When we watch him, there’s no noise. You don’t have to worry about anything.”

You got that right, kid.

But, yes, little kids these days appreciate Mister Rogers. I suppose some don't. Some didn't when he was contemporary. But calm sincerity is rare and appreciated by almost everyone, some of the time.
posted by crush at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


I agree with drewbage1847 in that I'm always scared someone will shred the glorious near-mythical wrapping around Mr. Rogers. He is such a legend. Not sure if anyone has heard this song before but it's funny, and of course, our hero wins in the end. The Ultimate Showdown
posted by annieb at 8:32 AM on December 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


(Irony: I grew up in the Pittsburgh area in the 1960s but forewent the Neighborhood for the spicier Captain Kangaroo. Now I finally get it.)
I know that everyone slags Captain Kangaroo, but I liked the "let's see how X is made" pieces that they showed on that show, too. I still remember one about a bottle-making plant. I think. Unfortunately most of my early-gradeschool memories are more "memories of having a memory" now.

I will have to mention to my daughter with the younger grandkids that you can still watch Mr. Rogers with the kids.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


The studio I'm at creates Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which tries to pick up where Fred Rogers left off. I haven't watched much of either show, but if you're a parent who wants that kind of gentleness and emotional intelligence for your kids, it might be worth checking out.
posted by clawsoon at 9:19 AM on December 1, 2019 [16 favorites]


When I was watching the movie this week, I thought about Terry Pratchet's/Granny Weatherwax's statement that “Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself.”

And that Fred Rogers in his outlier practice of radically validating attention with expansive room for feelings is the nearest thing to an exact opposite that I can think of. Upstream of thing-ifying people is narrowing room for their feelings, or for your own, or both, and then it becomes a habit and everybody becomes a hardened crate you can handle as social freight when it's worth the bother.

And then you encounter someone who's embodying Rogers' statement "I believe that appreciation is a holy thing," and the bible talk of God asking for a broken heart and a contrite spirit becomes a lot more accessible because there's an avenue for those feelings, someone acting as a living altar enabling you to set your feelings on for real regard.

That's a lot of religious language, but when you've got an atheist like Pratchett and a quietly religious man like Rogers both invoking the sinful and the holy on a topic maybe you've discovered that it's one that religious language is made for.

But maybe it's more simply accessible as well. Like the article author's child says “Kids know when a grown-up likes them.” Grown-ups often know too.
posted by weston at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2019 [26 favorites]


Funny that the author's kids liked Mr. Rogers more than the puppets, because that's totally how I remember watching the show as a kid as well. I don't remember much about the first time I watched a lot of those episodes but I do remember zoning out as soon as the trolley came out and went to a bizarro fantasy world I had no context for with people who were totally not Mister Rogers and not speaking to me the way he always did, directly to the audience.

Only recently, upon watching a bunch of those episodes again during a recent Twitch marathon, did I begin to appreciate the Land of Make Believe. Maybe the author's kids will get it in time, too, and it'll be a nice bonus when they're older.
posted by chrominance at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


They described cinematic classics like “E.T.” and the original “Karate Kid” as “too slow.”

I showed my ex's young son DIE HARD at one point. He was bored out of his mind. It was too slowly paced. That made me so sad.
posted by brundlefly at 3:42 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Funny that the author's kids liked Mr. Rogers more than the puppets, because that's totally how I remember watching the show as a kid as well. I don't remember much about the first time I watched a lot of those episodes but I do remember zoning out as soon as the trolley came out and went to a bizarro fantasy world I had no context for with people who were totally not Mister Rogers and not speaking to me the way he always did, directly to the audience.

I only liked two puppets as a little girl, Daniel Striped Tiger and Lady Elaine Fairchilde. Daniel was so sweet! And Lady Elaine had such an outsized personality! When I was in college, and by then knew that Fred did their voices also, I ended up liking and respecting "Fred Rogers as creator" more. I realized that through those puppets, he was explaining and reinforcing the same lessons that he would have just talked about "in the real world" regarding the gamut of feelings and how to manage them, but in a way that kids who related better to storytelling and example could understand.
posted by droplet at 9:52 AM on December 2, 2019


I was literally thinking just last night about showing my 6yo the divorce episode of Mister Rogers but worrying she would find it far too slow and boring to remain attentive to the end. I mean, she still might, but...that article is very encouraging. I previewed it on YouTube and was struck all over again by the quiet matter-of-factness and simple but still adult language he used when addressing kids (calling out how Mr. McFeely got visibly uncomfortable and quickly departed when the conversation turned to divorce, saying that we should all be able to talk about these things, etc.).
posted by anderjen at 11:28 AM on December 2, 2019


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