Between 1968 and 2001 many children spent half an hour in Fred Rogers’ beautiful neighborhood. His show, “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” was viewed by millions of children and focused on promoting imagination and love. It gave children a way to look at the scary world through a less scary lens. It also paved the way for visibility in television in a time where TV was predominantly white. The show itself was very monumental and loved by millions, airing over 900 episodes.
He was known for making his show about the kids. He saw the potential that television had and wanted to make good use of it. His show was known for him entering set in his iconic cardigan sweater and sneakers and just talking to the kids. He wasn’t flashy, his character wasn’t fake, he was real and down to earth with the kids. And the kids responded really well! Their emotions and ideas were accepted in Mr. Rogers neighborhood and they were able to talk about everything that was going on in the world and in their lives. Mr. Rogers was never one to shy away from difficult subjects; He talked about divorce, war, the JFK assasination, and even came back for a small special after 9/11. He also featured many female characters, quadreplegic characters, and featured the first African American man to have a recurring role on a children’s TV show. He talked about all of these subjects in a safe but real way to the kids, he didn’t want them to feel alone. This promoted ideas of the importance of mental health and equality at a young age, which, at its time, was really progressive.
So, who is Mr. Rogers now? After his passing in 2002 of stomach cancer, he is now remembered as a warm soul in children’s television. Many feel as if we need a role model like Mr. Rogers in this day in age. Many scary things are happening like global warming, war, protests, and hate crimes. It seems like everyone needs a chat with the man in the cardigan sweater that made them feel safe as kids.
And the film industry is catching on to this. It was only a year and a half ago when a documentary about Mr. Rogers was released called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? which allowed people to remember Mr. Rogers and what he was all about. Now on November 22nd another movie called A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, featuring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, will cover how he affected everyone around him with love, imagination, and wisdom. It’s letting people remember who Mr. Rogers was and why he was so successful during those 33 years that his show ran. Especially this new movie, which follows a journalist who profiled Mr. Rogers and was really affected and moved by the man he was. It’s going to show how even off camera Mr. Rogers was still the kind hearted man that inspired everyone.
So, even if you weren’t apart of Mr. Rogers beautiful neighborhood as a child. Let yourself be inspired by these new movies and articles being released. We really do need Mr. Rogers in today’s world, but we only have the legacy he left behind. So watch the movie, read the article, or even just watch the show. We need to remember the amazing people that blessed us with their talents and hearts, and Mr. Rogers is one of them.