Sunday, June 30, 2013

Raining on the Neighborhood

You know those loopy conversations friends have late at night that they rightfully want never spoken of again? Well, someone taped one of those, hacked into Fox News and aired it.

Seriously, don't watch this.

I'm as snarky as anyone, but Mr. Rogers? Come on. Only one person ever effectively made humor out of Fred Rogers, and that was Eddie Murphy (who, it must be noted, is not on Fox & Friends). And he did it not by lampooning the character, but by setting the same show in a bad neighborhood. Rogers actually liked the sketch so much that he approached Murphy personally to express his appreciation. That's the kind of person Rogers was, which is why he doesn't deserve this.

Rogers' message was that every child is special exactly the way they are. Like too many people these days, the Fox Friends apparently think "special" is a synonym for "spoiled." But I see the message the same way I did when I was a child — that one should not be insecure in their own skin, or try to be someone they're not. That they have intrinsic value, flaws and all. For some kids, their visit to the neighborhood was the only time they ever heard this. It's one of the greatest lessons anyone has ever taught.

And yet, Fox & Friends sees fit to mock Rogers and his lessons. They blame him for 25 years of self-absorption among young people — which aside from being an absurd allegation, also lowballs how long the Neighborhood was on the air. If he's to blame for the shortcomings of the most recent generations, he's also culpable for his role in molding the baby boomers sitting in those anchor's chairs.

Yes, some people take the "you are special" message and run with it into the realm of arrogance and entitlement. But for the most part, it's a desperately needed message in a cynical age where good people are increasingly urged to accept banal lots in life.

If nothing else, it's a far more appealing outlook on life than the one adopted by those who dismiss it.

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