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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather sob through 90% of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the magical realist film essay concerning Mr. Rogers, grief, death, and a non-traditional interpretation of puppetry.
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- “Can You Say… Hero?” from Esquire
While decrying the death of civility makes for a reliable clickbait headline, I think it’s telling that we now live in a world in which even Americans have the moral capacity to be disgusted by the poor treatment of immigrants.
That’s a sure sign of an increase in kindness if I’ve ever seen one.
What I find interesting about the civility pearl-clutching is that it assumes that it’s somehow civil to allow people to take destructive actions. And that assumption requires ignoring the fact that Mister Rogers never had Officer Clemons expanding internment camps because he insists that “those people” are destroying our way of life, but while somehow also ignoring that Make Believe absolutely did deal with characters trying to monopolize common resources or exclude people, and they handled it by confronting the character (usually Lady Elaine) instead of worrying about hurting the character’s feelings.
And you’re right, the rapid change from a world where it was “fine” to demean or even harm millions of people to a world where the people who still think so are identified as the problem is a huge advance in terms of kindness.
I also wanted to say (since my previous comment was meant as a reply to Three Act Destructure that went wrong in my browser) that I’m glad to hear that the movie is riding hard on Rogers’s humanity, since (as someone who grew up watching Mister Rogers) I’ve been really uncomfortable with the weird canonization of the man by people who very clearly don’t remember anything about a show that frequently went out of its way to make sure that viewers were under no illusions of the show being anything more than a bunch of under-funded people in a TV studio. People remember feeling parented by the show, but tend to forget that Big Bird wasn’t allowed to show up at Fred’s house because Carroll Spinney wasn’t comfortable taking off the costume as part of the conversation or that the trolley’s switch was (eventually) never hidden when it was used and was explained to the audience several times; in a lot of ways, the show was about the artifice.
Also, I really want to make the point to anybody looking to imagine Rogers siding with a particular politician: In many stories, the character who is wrong and needs to be corrected is the bloviating autocrat who was afraid of windmills and new neighbors to the point of, well…
(Also, the windmill in question was being built by Donkey Hodie, which somehow never strikes me as less funny than before I understood the reference.)
Crap. I also forgot about this little nugget that might be of interest when talking about the deliberateness of the show:
This will probably get buried, but can you do an episode with only user submitted questions? There are a lot of pop culture bits throughout the year I’d love to get you guys take on, that are maybe not trending now or are not profound enough to take a full episode. Thanks for the good work
Sure — or at least a segment. Ask some questions!
1. I’m always impressed and inspired by the panels depth of knowledge and use of language. What are two books you would each recommend, that shaped your worldview and expanded your knowledge?
2. A few years ago, the website put out what I feel is the best philosophical breakdown of Watchmen I’ve read. Have you seen the HBO series so far, and what are your thoughts on it?
3. On the theme of deconstructionist superhero stories, have you seen The Boys, and what did you think about it?
4. Did you ever follow up with Season 2 of Star Trek Discovery? There were no weekly articles like with the first season. What did you think of it, if you did?
5. I’m sure this will come again in the Oscar contenders episode, but your thoughts on the controversial Joker
6. Lastly, what’s the best way to raise your baby Yoda?
I’d like to add to this:
1. I guess this is closer to a request but, since I know that it can be difficult to coordinate different schedules for people scattered all across the country, I’d certainly be fine seeing more hot takes and spicy literary analysis on older media from time to time. Especially since everything old is new again anyways.
2. I went to see Kevin Smith live at the Balboa Theater this week as part of the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow. It was weird. It was also quite fun, of course, but watching a limited release sequel in a decades-old cinematic universe within a space normally reserved for more traditional theatrical performances gave me some thoughts about the directions in which our culture is headed. I was curious if you have anything to say on the topic of how films becoming more intimate changes their form and if this is a progression that you’ve seen historically in any other medium?
3. What is the worst piece of media, any type, that you guys have watched/played/read, etc. this year? And did you love it anyways?
4. This year saw a ton of studio politics becoming mainstream media fodder. The Disney acquisition of Fox and the momentary Spider-Man deal breakup were huge news items. Do you have any thoughts about whether or not this glut of reporting on how the sausage is made changes our perspective on, or even enjoyment of, these movies? Or any more general thoughts on this topic?
5. Any thoughts on Jojo Rabbit?
6. The film adaptation of A Million Little Pieces was apparently just released. Any thoughts on… I mean, just all of that craziness…
7. Clint Eastwood is going to be releasing a movie about a man unjustifiably hounded by the media in 2019. It seems pretty obvious what the political messaging is. But I was curious if any of you had any thoughts about the long and sometimes bizarre arc of Eastwood’s career.
8. If the cat-human monstrosities from the Cats trailer and the baby-teethed Sonic from the original Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer were forced into a duel to the death, how many seconds do you think it would take you to get bored and watch something else instead?