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.