As the end credits rolled in front of me from ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ I was instantly reminded of a quote in “Mistress America” saying –
“Being a beacon of hope is a lonely business”.
Well, yes and no. Fred Rogers Wont You Be My Neighbor ?
Fred Rogers certainly wasn’t alone, for he held the love and affection of everyone regardless of the target demographic. The word ‘demographic’ itself might sound a little crude pertaining to the nature of man in the discussion. He believed people were people, inherently good and special and full of love.
Sadly, it is true that Fred Rogers’s philosophy of kindness in today’s dog-eat-dog world comes off as a self-styled narcissism with a horrible sense of entitlement. Some might even go as far as to call it a cheeseball sentiment as debated in the documentary. Regardless, there was something about this man that made people want to sit in front of the television and hear him talk to and through them.
I didn’t grow up with Fred Rogers but it takes no rocket scientist to see, or even feel the infinite tenderness he possesses. With a deep understanding of children, child-like exuberance and delightfully colorful cardigans, Mr. Rogers aided with his puppets lifted the spirit of kids for almost 4 decades. Quite possibly ahead of his time, he was not afraid to talk about the matters that left him feeling uneasy and share his catharsis with the public.
The documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ itself beautifully pieces together Fred Rogers’ legacy like a colorful collage on a kid’s scrapbook. It captures his indomitable spirit, effortless brilliance, cheerfulness, grief, and unwavering faith in his beliefs in sincere earnest. By the time it ended, I was reminded of the fact that one can never outgrow the inner child that resides in all of us. To be in touch with it doesn’t make us weak, but bright and wonderful.