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Mister Rogers is the ultimate anti-hero America needs right now

Mister Rogers. (Jim Judkis/Focus Features via AP)

I’m a big fan of the anti-hero trend in entertainment.

It started with “The Sopranos.” Tony was so flawed, but you couldn’t help rooting for him. Then came “Dexter” and that was my favorite show until the last few seasons. “Breaking Bad?” That show is in my top five.

And it wasn’t just me. It seemed like this idea of pulling for these deeply-flawed characters seeped into the popular culture. It was real, it was edgy, and America loved its anti-heroes despite them doing unspeakably evil acts. There was enough goodness and struggle in all of them that we somehow couldn’t help but to root for them to figure it all out.

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That brings me to the latest anti-hero to hit the screen. The main character is so radical compared to current standards and yet you can’t help but to root for him. He’s actually the anti-anti-hero. It’s not a fictional character, however. His name is Fred Rogers. That’s right, Mister Rogers.

I went to see the new documentary that was recently featured in the Seattle International Film Festival called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

It’s out in theaters now and it’s nothing short of amazing.

Watching a man unabashedly striving to be good and kind and to listen to children is one of the most compelling movie experiences I’ve had in a long time. There’s no superheroes, no car chases, and no explosions.

Unless you count the emotional explosion of Mister Rogers single-handedly saving the budget for PBS with a heartfelt recital of a children’s song at a Senate hearing. There he was, singing:

What do you do with the mad that you feel?

When you feel so mad you could bite.

When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right.

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?

Do you pound some clay or some dough?

Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong.

And be able to do something else instead, and think this song:

“I can stop when I want to. I can stop when I wish.

I can stop, stop, stop anytime….And what a good feeling to feel like this!

And know that the feeling is really mine.

Know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can.

For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.”

How ironic that the evolution of our culture has made Mister Rogers become the anti-hero America needs now. He reminds us from the grave that to truly be a real lady or a real man of power is to love. It is to be kind and it is to listen to children.

Go see this movie, you won’t regret it.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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