Generations of American children were raised on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, this writer included. Fred Rogers, the unlikely titular star of the show, taught his young audience not just their ABC’s. They also learned self-esteem, how to react when dealing with extreme emotions and how to deal with the crap that life can throw at you.
The new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, follows not only the life and career of Fred Rogers, but also tells the story of his television show was the basis of the emotional and academic education for millions of American children. He proved that children’s television, then and now, does not need to bop its audience over the head or use a cartoon to sell toys and other merchandise. It can speak to its audience on a personal level and teaches them without the child being aware that they are learning.
If there was ever a reason to go to the movie theater, this movie is it. When we grow up, many of us can become cynical, angry or just go about our day-to-day life without feeling anything. Mister Rogers allowed his young audience to feel, to ask questions and to understand that sometimes life is hard. I think when we grow up, we forget that. Seeing this movie reminded me that it’s ok to feel, it’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to understand life can be difficult.
I absolutely recommend it.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor is presently in theaters.