The Problem with Fred Rogers

Is Mister Rogers a good moral role model? Maybe. I’ll begin with this. I have a saying “Of all my sexual experiences in college, none of them involved sex and most of them involved political and social discussions of sexual assault. The sentiment was some pseudo-street smart person saying “Most people think romance is a fairy-tale but on the street, in real life, it is femicide and rape”. Why would I ever want to be a boyfriend, they sound like horrible people? Romance was Nancy Grace, SVU, Ted Bundy, and the Ellen Jamesians. I never had a first kiss or went on a romantic date but I still got in trouble for platonic harassment and platonic cyberstalking.

Mr. Rogers, by associating innocence with childhood, implied that innocence doesn’t exist in adulthood. Now, he is a metonym for a lot of children’s entertainment, this is more than his show. It is a false notion of what the Fall of Man from the Garden of Eden is about. It isn’t about leaving childhood. “Be fruitful and multiply” came before Eve ate the fruit so the sin wasn’t sex, it was hubris in questioning God. The supposed loss of innocence everone supposedly goes through according to pop culture was regretted that one could not return to childlike innocence but ultimately it was impossible and one must surrender to the adult world of sordid depravity.

There really needed to be an adult Mr. Rogers who didn’t tell everyone they were special but rather that they were unique and valueble which is the same thing except the word is not associated with intellectual disabilities and small children. Having been raised in Special Ed, his tone of voice is insulting. Sure, he was speaking to children but he was celebrity among adults and spoke to them the same way. The adults came away from it thinking kindness was like Santa and adults were too worldly to practice it. Morality from childhood to adulthood ought not be The Barney Show to “I give up, I’m getting an MBA, a cocaine addiction, a copy of Atlas Shrugged”, and an STD” No, it should be the Boy Scout Oath for kids and onto Immanuel Kant and Gandhi.

And the world after childhood is not one devoid of innocence and play. For a lot people, it stays innocent. Their finger paintings become oil paintings, their pretend play becomes improv, their little league becomes pickup games, and they have hobbies, arts, and sports. The loss of innocence does not happen for a large portion of adults. The pop culture, a lot of it, imagines, that adulthood is full of rape, murder, BDSM, drugs, alcohol, and that stuff. I want to be a period gentleman having gushy lubby chivalry with a debutante, I don’t want a stripper or a submissive. Childhood entertainment like Mr. Rogers implied a false dichotomy between an Eden childhood and a sordid adulthood and thereby implied strong character was almost impossible for adults in light of their worldliness. None of that is true.

One thought on “The Problem with Fred Rogers

  1. One of the few good things about Mister Rogers, he changed his shoes when he got in the building.

    The idea of not carrying your outside world dirt in with you was profound.

    I had bad experiences too. Not anything close to what you have mentioned, but all it did was open my eyes to what drives other people. That and people aren’t the saints I wanted them to be.


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