Saturday, February 29, 2020

Won't You Be My Neighbour? (2018) directed by Morgan Neville

It would be easy to dismiss the work of Fred Rogers, Mister Rogers as he more commonly known as frivolous children's TV fair, but as this documentary shows , his work was so or important and cutting edge than many remember.  Fred Rogers was a TV icon and trailblazer for children's entertainment.  His understand and unflinching dedication to the needs of the young people of the nation was nothing short of amazing.

We all have memories of the show, the puppets, the sweater, him taking off his shoes and putting on his sneakers when entering the set - but the show, as this documentary shows, he went far beyond anything we have today in terms of what subject matter is acceptable for those youngest minds among us. Rogers tackled discrimination because of race like no one else could. He invited his black mailman to share his kiddie pool with him, going as far as to dry the man's feet when they were taken out of the water. This was at a time public pools were throwing bleach on black people who dared to cool off with white folk on hot days. He discussed the assignation of Robert Kennedy... what kiddie show could even attempt to tackle that now? Mister Rogers was often the subject of parody (which he found often funny) and the work he did was often overlooked but the impact he had on generations is unmistakable. He was a tireless advocate for fairness and accepting people as they are, Oddly he shared many philosophical traits of the Satanists in the film "Hail Satan" I just reviewed here at the Slammer. His way of getting his point across was MUCH less aggressive, however.

The film goes farther into his life than the recent Tom Hanks film does and even covers his conflict over the actor playing the policeman being gay which isn't really covered in the Hollywood version of his life. As you can imagine, Rogers walked the walk and talked the talk when it came to accepting people as they are. Sadly, there weren't and certainly aren't many like him out there and I would say none like him in the present media landscape. How many of them would you want to have as neighbour?

Did I mention the Fred Rogers pretty much saved PBS single-handed by appearing before congress? Seriously you owe it to yourself to see how wonderful this man was, flaws and all. It will make you want to be a better person and that was all Mister Rogers would ask for as his legacy.


T' said...

He is definitely one of those people you don't appreciate until it's too late. I loved him as a small child and watched his show every day. I still remember the ads on PBS about some new show coming down the road called, "Sesame St." Seeing stuff on him later made me feel guilty about laughing at the parodies. I didn't watch either film about him mostly as I don't want my memories challenged. I'm just glad that people are finally realizing what he was trying to do and the importance of it.

Behemoth media said...

I never saw him as young kid as we didn't have a TV until I was older. I did see the show time to time later on, but mostly because I love puppets and I didn't really thing his puppets compared to Sesame Street... what shows can compare to Sesame Street especially in that regard? I reviewed "Hail Satan" and oddly Rogers attempts to show people fairness and to make that a priority dovetails with the Satanist Temple... though they go about promoting fairness is VERY different ways. I didn't see the Tom Hanks film, my parents did and loved it but for me this documentary was enough and I think likely a lot more true to the real person.