In Defense Of Mr. Rogers

I was reading an article on cracked.com, entitled The 7 Most Random Celebrity Duos Who Hung Out Before Fame which mentions a relationship between George Romero and Fred Rogers, and that Mr. Rogers actually sat through a Dead movie.

Impressed with this, I was inspired to learn more about him, as, like many in my generation, I grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

One link or another led me to a delightful video, where a bunch of wankers on FOX & Friends (no doubt the network's answer to the hags on The View) state how evil Mr. Rogers is:

FOX News Thinks Mr. Rogers is Evil

I don't disagree with the message: most people, especially children, are angry, self-absorbed and selfish twits, whose only chance at 'specialness' is likely growing up to being a commentator on a cruddy TV network.  What this has to do with Mr. Rogers, though, eludes me.

I certainly think the entitlement mentality tightening its stranglehold on our society bites, but that's not what Mr. Rogers was all about.

While the concept is no doubt beyond the grasp of the parties involved with FOX & Friends, Mr. Rogers felt he needn't talk down to his audience; rather,  that they deserved to be treated with the same respect and dignity he, himself, would wish to be shown. 

Coming from the era of the equal rights movements, a guy on TV saying you were alright however you born; whatever color you are, whatever gender you happened to be, was a unique message. It wasn't about achievement or hollow awards and recognition; heck, in our society, quality of effort is rarely rewarded over the spectacle of cheap amusement; Lady Gaga serves to illustrate this, and bad taste in general: I wonder if she would be more the ideal FOX & Friends would prefer for our children. 

Or, perhaps, we need more animated dinosaurs?  More violent cartoons? 

Should we simply tell children the truth about themselves... that they're nasty little brats whose existence is likely to never amount to much more than breeding the next batch of cretinous parasites, who, in turn, will simply grow up to occupy space, as well?

I find it odd there'd be this sort of attack on Fred Rogers from FOX & Friends.

Here's a guy who was a devoted Christian his whole life; an old white man; straight, married, wealthy, hard-working (and pushing the same on his show, where the characters he visits all must work hard to obtain what they have).

But, then, Mr. Rogers was also truly a devout Christian: not just in word alone, but deed as well. 

According to those who knew him, he was the same off set as on; a kind, caring, compassionate human being, who looked for the good in everyone, no matter how cruel and petty they insisted on being. 

This, no doubt, is what must have fueled the ire of the crass hypocrites over at FOX News: such an alien thing, this looking for the positive attributes buried under the cesspool of hostility and malice in people, versus looking for someone or something to blame all of one's own shortcomings and faults on.

Fred Rogers is an aspiration for people with a soul; even for cynical, sarcastic people like me, it's encouraging to know there was someone like him: someone who made an effort to find that one thing good about you, no matter how much of a shit you are.

It's sad such people are so rare in our society, and sadder still they're mocked for displaying the very traits many of the hyenas barking from under the flaps of the conservative tent profess to admire and value.

From PBS' FAQ about how Mister Rogers' Neighborhood helps children get ready to attend school,

"Just as importantly, the programs foster the social and emotional "tools" for learning self-esteem, curiosity, self-control, the ability to pay attention, to handle mistakes, and deal with anger. Children are more able to use their energies for learning if they feel good about themselves, can deal with their feelings, and get along with others."

No doubt useful for life in general, too.  What a shame Gretchen Carlson wasn't fortunate enough to have watched Mr Rogers' Neighborhood when she was a child.

Further reference and perspectives:

PBS FAQ about Mr. Rogers
Snopes Article About Mr. Rogers
Time Article on Mr. Rogers
A More Personal Glimpse at Mr. Rogers

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