The Radical Mister Rogers

Chantel Tattoli at The Paris Review:

This goes to the center of it. Until the election of Donald Trump, the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was titled The Radical Mister Rogers. The filmmaker (owing much to Long’s book) realized that billing “would turn off people who needed to see it.” Joanne told me the premiere at Sundance was attended by cross-party politicians; in fact, she’d heard it “pleased both sides.” In the outright sense, she allowed, Rogers did not behave politically. “Many parents wouldn’t have let their kids watch.” (The national broadcast of Neighborhood was sponsored by the Sears-Roebuck Foundation, and “Sears would not have wanted to lose people.”) “But if both sides were pleased with the doc,” held Long, “either one side wasn’t paying close attention or its treatment of Rogers’s leftist politics was insufficient.”

“Rogers sure as hell was political—the Neighborhood messaged countercultural values like diplomacy over militancy—and he himself got vocal when the wellbeing of children was at stake,” Long added. (The housemothers letter I found archived at Rollins is a precocious example of that.) He was close to Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania, and lobbied for Heinz’s bill to exempt one parent of military couples or single parents from deployment during the Gulf War.

more here.