I am quite biased and immovable when it comes to the subject of this Focus Features documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Fred Rogers). No one can tell me that Fred Rogers was not an angel sent down from the very heavens as an example of what we should all aspire to emulate. His ability to talk to and more importantly, to LISTEN to youngsters in a way that made us who were brought up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood feel important and special is unrivaled.
And to the folks (as featured in the film) who taken a more misanthropic look back on Rogers’ life and impact on culture – sorry but you are wrong. Very much like the film suggests, I do not think Rogers’ message to young people ever carries any self-importance, privilege or sense of entitlement. In fact, the message is quite the opposite; we are all different – physically, emotionally, spiritually. The lesson he taught us is to never be ashamed of those differences; instead we should make sure to value and hold dear those things that make us uniquely who we are. This is the thread which runs through the documentary.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is not the first documentary to probe into the life and work Fred Rogers. And like all the profiles I have seen, this one continued the streak of leaving me with more than a couple of tears in my eyes at its conclusion.