A documentary about Mr. Rogers is coming just when we need it


There’s only one person in the whole world that’s like you, and that’s you

I think it’s fair for me to say that the world is filled with vitriol and animosity right now. Everywhere you look there are people angry about everything, politics, celebrities, social media, video games, a well made but somewhat flawed sequel to a science fiction classic, it’s everywhere.

It may have always been like this but it wasn’t as prevalent, I mostly blame the internet for giving anyone a platform to spread their hate to the far reaches of the globe but without it, I wouldn’t be able to spread this news so I can’t rightfully say it’s inherently evil. Perhaps it is that we as a culture have become addicted to negativity. For years the mantra of “if it bleeds, it leads” has been the norm when it comes to news reporting and with the advent of the 24-hour cable news cycle it’s become a constant storm of negativity, and death that we see each day.

There aren’t many sources of light and unbiased positivity in the world anymore, and because of that, there isn’t much to counterbalance the rampant negativity. The only major current sources of enduring positivity that I can think of are Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Andrew W. K. What we need right now is someone like Fred Rogers.

Fred Rogers was the host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a public access children’s show that ran from 1968 to 2001. It wasn’t flashy, or loud, or very sophisticated, eschewing those trends for a more subdued and personal experience. Each episode began with Mr. Rogers walking into his home, and taking off his coat and shoes and changing into sneakers and a cardigan while singing to the audience “Won’t you be my neighbor.” The episodes usually involved Mr. Rogers talking about general real-world problems that children would have to one day face, and the positive ways to go about them.

It was odd at the time to see a children’s show talk about such harsh topics such as death, war, and divorce, but where many people would have rather swept it under the rug for children, Fred Rogers was there to confront it head-on with a gentle smile and the reminder that it is o.k. to feel sad and scared sometimes, but the key to moving forward is finding the good in people.

Unfortunately, Fred Rogers died in 2003. Ever since then his presence in everyday life has been slowly eroding due to the fact that there is nothing new to show of him. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood carries on his legacy currently on public access but it doesn’t have the same feel as the original show. Twitch did a big service to his legacy last year when they aired every single episode of his in a row to promote their new positivity community, a group of streamers that went for calm and happy streams as opposed to aggressive and loud streams that tend to be popular. Still, Twitch is pretty insulated and doesn’t have a wide-reaching audience, at least in the older generations. Thankfully though later this year, Focus Features will be releasing a documentary about Fred Rogers and his work on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The documentary titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor is getting its premiere at Sundance Film Festival this week and will go behind the scenes of the show to take a deeper look at the genius that was Fred Rogers. It will show how he helped inspire generations of children to be the person they are with hope, love, and creativity. This week we got our first look at the documentary and even with such a short clip, I can tell that this documentary was handled the right way. Will the release of this documentary solve all the world’s problems? Nope. But I cannot see any downside to bringing the light that is Fred Rogers into the mainstream again.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor will receive a theatrical release on June 8th, 2018.