Mister Rogers had quite the knack for putting an epic and rather vast idea into a few gentle words.
Oh, sure, he implored us to play nice with our pals and be careful crossing streets and use our words. But he was as wonderful and succinct on the larger matters of life as well. Take this beautiful Fred Rogers observation: "Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex."
Thank goodness this thoughtful and thought-provoking man was a friend to so many of us in our youth. He was also a friend in later life to MTV producer Benjamin Wagner. Mr. Wagner met Mister Rogers and decided to make a documentary about it, and about the man, and Mister Rogers's admirably wide-scope, whimsically tinted views of the world and how we go about living in it.
"Mister Rogers and Me" will screen at the Paley Center for Media on Monday, March 19. It's the LA premiere, and while the event is free you'll need to RSVP. Other guests will Q&A, including Davy Rothbart of "Found" magazine fame.
The film isn't merely a bio of the children's television icon, who passed away in 2003. It is a study in friendship and ideas and how kids view the media and how the media interacts with kids. And, ultimately, how we can all strive for betterness rather than bitterness.
Didn't Mister Rogers always make you want to strive for betterness? He still does. What a lasting and kind legacy.