There are a lot of think pieces and tweet threads circulating out there that pit younger generations against the Boomers and beyond, but the truth is that there are some elders that (still) have a lot to offer. That paragon of wholesome content and non-toxic masculinity, Fred Rogers, has been quoted, GIF-ed, meme-d, and otherwise shared so widely on our feeds that it seems unnecessary to give the man, or this movie about him, any introduction. But just in case it’s needed, here’s a quick list of things about Mr. Rogers and his seventy-four years on this spinning blue marble:
- Made 912 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (including specials), wrote the theme song, and also wrote every other song featured on the show
- Testified before the Senate and helped save PBS – even increasing its funding – in 1969
- Also to thank for the ability to tape TV shows on your VCR growing up, because of his persuasive testimony to the Supreme Court
- Exclusively wore zip-up cardigans knitted for him by his mom
- Didn’t eat meat or believe in desks
- Got pranked on Candid Camera 1998 and wasn’t even mad about it
- Had a tender and jubilant moment with Koko the gorilla, who was a big fan, in which she took his shoes off for him like she had seen him do so many times
- An ordained minister but not, as many mistakenly believe, a veteran
- Responded to every piece of fan mail
Won’t You Be My Neighbor reminds us that being radical isn’t always in your face or aggressive and that Hollywood might be failing young people by not treating them like adults and talking about important issues — after all, “adult stuff” like elections, crime, MeToo, and Black Lives Matter both trickle down and directly affect children in equal measure. The fifteen years since Mister Rogers’ death haven’t exactly been easy for kids anywhere in the world. That means they need to learn strength and compassion in equal measure.
Are ye not made of stone? Prove it. We’re not saying that if you don’t see this movie, you are, but in a way, yes, that’s exactly what we’re saying. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Will be in theaters on June 8. Pro tip: Pick up one of those mini-packs of tissues, because you’re going to be letting a lot of things out.
And speaking of beloved elders, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her eponymous documentary — now also with a trailer — in theaters starting May 4.
While Won’t You Be My Neighbor‘s subject is no longer around to tell his own story and thus is seen through archival footage and interviews, RBG is here to speak for herself. And behind the viral catchphrases and cult of personality lies a true American and feminist hero(one) who has been speaking the truth (which, we learn in this trailer, we can’t spell without Ruth) to power for longer than most of us have even been alive. Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, RBG promises to be both an essential historical document, an inspirational biography, and a means to get to know one of the most recognized figures in contemporary American politics.