Friday, March 7, 2008

It's Such a Good Feeling...

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood began in the late sixties because Fred Rogers hated what he saw on television. He had begun his education and career in music, but upon seeing TV for the first time he immediately set out to work in the medium. He saw the potential that was there and was not being used.
 
He studied Theology while he was working in children’s programming, but never intended to enter formal ministry. In fact, he was ordained by his church to do children’s television.
 
By today’s standards, his show is difficult to watch. It has a slow pace that children are not used to today. The short attention spans in children that television is often blamed for are not his doing. He never used animation, but still explored ideas through fantasy with the use of puppets, a life-long fascination of his.
 
He exemplified a Christian version of tolerance that is either poorly understood or avoided today. While very committed to his beliefs, he was accepting of all people, influencing them through kindness and acceptance not sermons. His catchphrase known by children everywhere was “I like you just the way you are.”
 
It seems in the children’s television world of today, full of frenetic animation and crude, and common denominator humor, that we need more ideals from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Where shows like the Teletubbies flash bright colors and repeat everything twice for the brainless children that watch, and the latest Barney knock-off engages in Diabetes inducing sweetness, and Dora or Diego boil “educational programming” down to the latest mindless three step task, someone needs to just spend time with the preschool audience and teach them some important truths. Let them know they are unique, they are loved, and teach them to behave according to the ethical standards found in Matthew 7:12.

2 comments:

  1. You know how much I admired Mr. Rogers. As I watched you as a two year old sit completely still before the TV listening to his perfect grammar and enjoying his songs and the puppets, I was so impressed. At the end, you would turn to your Snoopy stuffed animal and say, "Snoopy, I like you just the way you are." Then Sesame Street would come on and you would be up running around the house withing two minutes. I feel sadness for the children who never had the opportunity to know Mr. Rogers through his show.
    Love you,
    Mom

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  2. Thanks for that image of me getting all sappy with Snoopy (who is still around the house somewhere after all the moves and material downsizing we have done.)
    I was actually inspired to include this show in my list of great television after hearing some Mr. Rogers stories on NPRs "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me." I didn't fit them into the blog but google him sometime and read about when his car was stolen, his influence on VHS technology, and one of his biggest fans--Koko the Gorilla.

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