Welcome to my neighborhood

Tom Hanks poses for a promotional photo regarding his new movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Matt Licari

Tom Hanks poses for a promotional photo regarding his new movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”.

Yesterday, I sat down to watch a movie about a man I had never met and a TV show I had never watched.

To be quite frank, I had never known much about Mr. Rogers. I knew that his show had created waves back in the day, that he was a source of positivity to those who desperately needed it. He seemed to be a man of great conviction.

Upon leaving the film, however, I found myself in tears. Somehow, in some way or another, this man had touched my life. His electric smile and gentle demeanor had made me feel safe. Finally, I understood why Mr. Rogers had defined an entire generation.

If you’re not sure what movie I’m talking about, the film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” debuted recently, centered around the budding relationship between a journalist and Fred Rogers. The plot is loosely based off of a true story.

Watching this film made me realize exactly how important he was to the generation watching him. Children everywhere had someone to relate to, someone that made them feel valued and important. Especially when they weren’t getting that at home, Mr. Rogers may very well have been the only positive role model in their life.

When Fred passed away in 2003, who was there to carry on his legacy? His absence must have left an aching hole in society, an aching hole in the hearts of individuals everywhere who had relied on him for comfort and validation. 

So many children watched his show because they legitimately didn’t have anything else to do. There were only a few channels on the television. Nowadays, if a kid has free time, they’ll reach for the gaming console or the iPad. The things getting through to this generation the most are toxic social media posts or violent video games. Yet, now more than ever, the message of Mr. Rogers is what these children need to be absorbing the most.

Although various moments throughout the film stirred my emotions, the most prevalent thing that Fred did was thank the audience for making the day fantastic and that they made the day so great just by being themselves. In today’s society, we need more people like that – people who promote self-acknowledgement and self-acceptance rather than an unattainable image of what beauty or perfection is supposed to be like.

Every neighborhood deserves to have a Mr. Rogers.