Mr. Rogers, Cultural Icon

Thomas Clark, Aiden Acosta, and Ryan Cho

Mr. Rogers, Cultural Icon


On September 21st, 2018, Google released its Google Doodle for the 51st anniversary of the discontinued children’s TV show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. A Google Doodle is a temporary change in the logo on Google homepages that commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and people.  A childhood favorite show for many, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood aired from February 19, 1968, to August 31, 2001.

The show featured Mr. Rogers, accompanied by other characters, such as Lady Aberlin, Officer Clemmons and more, along with puppets such as Daniel Tiger, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, and much more. In the episodes, Mr. Rogers talked about topics that would seem too radical for other children’s shows. He touched on divorce, death, war, race and some others. While this may seem too real for kids at such a young age, Mr. Roger’s calm demeanor made the topics approachable for children.

Anyone who has seen an episode of the show will know how almost comically slow-paced the whole thing is. For most modern young adults it’s almost frustrating how much time passes while nearly no “ground is covered,” but just a little bit of research will prove that’s kind of the point.

The show teaches kids not to use the mindset of using as little time as possible to accomplish tasks (something we all have drilled into our brains). As life becomes more and more stressful for people young and old, it is increasingly important to preserve the slow, calming, stress-free parts of your day, be it yoga class for a working mom, or watching Mr. Roger’s for a little kid.

As children grow up, who they grow up watching or following can have a huge impact on their actions. Mr. Rogers was a kind, loving person who believed that everybody was special in their own way. Children who watched Mr. Rogers learned that everybody was equal, because of how influential Mr. Rogers’ was and how he treated the people around him.

The show came around in an era of working parents and expensive daycare, so thousands of children around America were left with no one to look up to. The Neighborhood filled that gap perfectly.

Mr. Rogers uses puppets to enhance children’s imagination because of how the puppets are portrayed as the kids so the actual kids watching would be able to relate and understand what is going on. The puppets also teach that people might also have the same questions that you have and that you’re not alone. The kids might have the same questions as the puppet so they can understand everything and feel like they not alone with questions or feelings. The puppets that he had were, King Friday, Daniel Tiger, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Cornflake S. Pecially, Edgar Cooke, Grandpère, and the frogs.

In 1969 Fred Rogers spoke before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications in a renowned testimony for more government funding to be allocated to public broadcasting and television. His six-minute speech played a big role in the PBS’ $9 million to $22 million funding increase in 1971.

The subcommittee was chaired by Rhode Island Senator John Pastore who, after Mr. Rogers read the lyrics to one of his songs about managing anger, said “I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the 20 million dollars”. Few people have the ability to make such an important change in just six minutes.

Mr. Rogers teaches that it is very important to be nice to people, take for example you are nice to somebody when they really need it, one day that same person might do something really nice for you and that you should almost always be nice. Teaching to be nice is good because it shows the kids that watch the show that if you live life with a positive attitude you can possibly have a better life. Teaching to be nice too people in the real world is also good because it ensures the next generation to be a good one.