I was five years old when Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on PBS. I don’t remember it. In fact, I don’t remember ever watching the show although my mother tells me that I did and that I (and she) loved it. My most significant memories of Mr. Rogers come from Eddie Murphy’s parody Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood (which I thought was hilarious) and Diane Rehm’s interviews of Fred Rogers in his later years. With this history, I wasn’t prepared to love the documentary about Mr. Rogers as much as I did. The documentary starts with scenes from the first week of the show and had the audience gasping because of the relevance of the messages to events in the United States today. Mr. Rogers messages of love and respect and kindness might seem sappy in other times but they spoke to me in that movie theater. The movie was funny and poignant and hopeful. Mr. Rogers’ respect for other people and especially children is inspiring, especially in these times when children are being used as ransom for a border wall. The scenes where he meets Koko the gorilla were amazing. Koko clearly loved him and he was moved by that love. The audience applauded at the end of this documentary. I highly recommend it.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in astrophotography, game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.