Won’t you be my neighbor?

7 months ago Julie Ainsley Comments Off on Won’t you be my neighbor?

Tom Hanks will put on the iconic red sweater made famous by Fred Rogers in his television series, “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” for an upcoming biopic about his life and legacy entitled “You Are My Friend.”

According to Vanity Fair, the biopic is currently being slated to be directed by Marielle Heller. The story is about Rogers’ friendship with journalist Tom Junod, who wrote the famous profile on Rogers in a 1998 Esquire piece.

The news comes happily to adults everywhere who grew up with the beloved television show and live by his philosophies about loving those in your community and loving yourself for who you are.

“When I was a child I enjoyed Mister Rogers’ calming nature and colorful characters. I had a colorful imagination and he encouraged me to use it. He also taught me to accept all kinds of people,” junior Madalyn Chevalier said. Rogers is not only a familiar friend to those who watched his show, but to the entire Wesleyan community.

In 2016, Dr. Steven Emmanuel of the Philosophy department and Dr. Kathy Merlock-Jackson of the Communication department co-edited a book titled “Revisiting Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Essays on Lessons About Self and Community.”

“He was very much ahead of his time. He was an advocate of community. Being a part of where you live and taking care of each other,” Dr. Kathy Merlock-Jackson said.

The biopic comes at a time where we are questioning American values and who to accept.

According to Jackson, this biopic of Rogers is very timely.

“At an age where things are moving so fast, he moved slowly. He sat down, he talked to people, he looked you in the eye. … As we become more multicultural, accepting of people who are different, and overcoming stereotypes, we come to appreciate Mister Rogers, who had always done that. I think it shows a maturity of our culture that we are able to accept someone like Mister Rogers,” Jackson said.

The inclusivity and community based campus where we live and learn celebrates what Mister Rogers taught the world. In celebrating the release of the book, the campus hosted a series of events discussing about the legacy Rogers. Chevalier was able to have a hand in helping promote the events.

“Having the class assignment on Mister Rogers was very nostalgic. It allowed me to relive my childhood and bond with my classmates over a shared experience,” Chevalier said.

The biopic brings much excitement to everyone who watched him and grew up with him as their neighbor. There are high expectations for the overall depiction.“I was not aware of a biopic coming out, but I believe I would definitely be interested in seeing it. As for high expectations, I hope that they do this phenomenal man justice,” Chevalier said.

Jackson also reflected on key parts of his career that are essential to a true picture of who Mister Rogers is. “When Mister Rogers addressed the Senate in order to save funding for public television and when he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award. He was a big proponent of education and in both scenes he showed how passionate he was about people learning and reflecting on those who made a difference in their lives,” Jackson said.

The biopic has no release date set, but the news of reviving Mister Rogers’ legacy for old and new generations brings hope for people to be accepting of our neighbors.

Julie Ainsley
jmainsley@vwu.edu