Cinephile No. 720 “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
"To Know You Are Loved”
A Review of "Won’t You Be My Neighbor” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Morgan Neville, Starring: Joanne Rogers, Betty Aberlin, McColm Cephas Jr.
Rating: 5 Stars, SHOWTIME
An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children’s television host, Fred Roger.
Suicide is in the news again. With the death of two high profile celebrities, the world is once again rustling up the strength to have a bold conversation about mental health. Meanwhile, somewhere in the inner city of Chicago or a rural town on the Great Plains sits a child basked in the glow of a television or a tablet. He or she is consuming media at an alarming rate. Adult concepts are learned every day through this electronic babysitter. Of all the messages they receive, are they being told of an adult who cares? Are they being told of someone to look up to who will be there throughout the stages of their lives? Are they being told they are loved deeply and as exactly as they are?
The world needs more men and women like Fred Rogers from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I am wholly convinced if more of them were around then the suicide rates in this country would be trending downward instead of their current trajectory. The world needs more adults who aren’t afraid to express their inner child. The world needs more adults who know how to talk about big things with little human beings. The world needs more adults who aren’t rushing childhood along.
This documentary makes many obvious truths known. It reveals things new and old you may have known about Fred Rogers. It reveals his faithful devotion to children of all shapes, sizes, and sorts. It shows his belief that no child is a mistake. It also reveals that there is no wrong way to be a man. Men can be nurturing, loving, and warm. Finally, this film reveals the power of positivity and the impact of inviting such a mindset into your life. As a film, there isn’t much groundbreaking here. As a message to the world, this might be the most important film of the year.
Be good to each other,
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