Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mister Rogers' Philosophy

Note*  Before you read this blog, make sure you're viewing on a system that can watch video and/or YouTube, otherwise the end is pointless.  Thanks. - MC

 So some kids in the '70s grew up with PBS.  I did.  Science shows in the afternoon as I learned amoebas battling paramecium in real-time through microscopes, and, of course, kids' shows such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company (great and not-so-great actors came from that show), and, iconically, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood which ran just a year prior of Jim Henson's masterwork in 1968 onto 2001 when Fred Rogers retired.

  Rumors existed with shifty eyes of Mr. Rogers being a Marine sniper in WW-II though he never served in the military, nor was he a child molester in any way (sad how society attacks the soft-spoken).  He was ordained as a minister, however, and grew up in Pittsburgh.  Angry that children's television sucked in the late '60s he started a show that focused on basic philosophy, music, and teaching kids how to use imagination as a device for creativity. 

  I always thought it was a baby show for under age 3 because of its rudimentary simplicity, yet that, along with the aforementioned shows were almost required viewing education back then.  Mister Rogers' Neighborhood?  I didn't like it after age 5 whatsoever, and I barely even glanced at it after age 9.  These shows lingered for years, Sesame Street having some in-jokes and stayed progressive with the times but, these things that are building-blocks are not really offered now, and kids are spastic because of the lack.  I meet kids who grew up with Barney the Dinosaur instead and, well, they ended up as @&*#-tards.  I've work with some of them in my life.  Sad bunch, their parents allowing them to watch stupid, meaningless shows like TeleTubbies and similar, which have no value and don't make any sense or teach basic concepts vital to early development.  Simply eye-candy and a babysitter so mommy can have wine at 2pm.

  The US Government has seized control of the Children's Television Workshop and had, I suspect, a heavy hand in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood eventually.  It's rather apparent in Sesame Street, I suspect probably when Mr. Snuffleupagus (Big Bird's imaginary friend, which created an "okay" for kids to actually have an imaginary friend adults cannot see for a short while, which is normal in child development from time-to-time before kindergarten) was finally seen and accepted by adults around season 17 in 1985.  This was actually used because of the show 20/20 at the time focusing on child molestation and how adults would never believe children even though it was the truth of things and the show was pressed to change that.  Sigh.  Again, the complexity of the twisted adult world ruining a simple thing Jim Henson was trying to convey, and, well, in my opinion, it all went downhill from there, "Jumping the Shark" as it were.

  I digress.  In looking back at a philosophical level, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was actually pretty decent, if not a bit "pussy" and almost too safe and gentle, it had very good concepts and honest purity, though it's easy to consider Mister McFealy the mustached postman bringing 8mm short reels to Fred which they'd watch down in the basement of children playing with light piano music even makes me cringe a little, but I lost that innocence years ago like most adults as we've seen the corrupt do their deeds in news and paper, and we as corrupt minds no matter how we try cannot barely believe that two men can simply enjoy the simplicity of the joy of a child playing in happiness without some subtext.  Yet, it was pure and true, and you can dissect it all you want, but there's no subtext.  It'd be easy to select a dart here or there, but the bulls-eye isn't where you think, it's back behind you, at your childhood, where a religious man isn't corrupt but honest, pure, both philosophically and theologically.  Hard to believe, but it was true.  He was a good, honest man throughout, and despite a ton of scrutiny.  He was not gay or a closet-gay, he didn't molest children, he didn't have any weird-o freaky hang-ups.  It's hard to believe he was so pure a man.  I had a real hard time with it, but amazingly, despite our doubts, indeed, he stayed a man of God more than any of us until his passing in 2003.

  Please consider this PBS-produced(!) philosophical summary-homage.  It's worthy, and it made me ponder on a deeper level.



  1. Like you, I didn't really care for Mr. Rogers' show as a kid. I always thought it was lame. I think I have more appreciation for it (and for him) now as an adult than I did as a kid.

    And also, if I get that damn chain e-mail about him being a Marine killing machine one more time, I'm going to drive to their house and destroy their computer with a baseball bat.

    1. I think Mr. Rogers would have liked that.