I HATE YOUR KIDS: The late Mr. Rogers, host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood on PBS for a total of 30 years, is being recast as a villain by some educators, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. As parenting myths and methods are being re-examined now that their subjects have reached the age of majority, excessive self-esteem is being cited again and again as a sickness infecting kids passing through the waiting room to the real world also known as college.
“Mr. Rogers spent years telling little creeps that he liked them just the way they were,” goes the introductory post on a Yahoo Answers discussion site devoted to Rogers, as quoted in the Journal article. “He should have been telling them there was a lot of room for improvement. ... Nice as he was, and as good as his intentions may have been, he did a disservice.”
Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, says that he came this conclusion after the start of the yearly ritual of students visiting his office and demanding their grades be improved. “They felt so entitled," Chance recalled, "and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers.”
Fred Rogers was “representative of a culture of excessive doting,” a philosophy that took hold in the aftermath of the Second World War, and which was summed up by Rogers’ catchphrase, repeated daily to at least two generations of children, and reinforced by their parents: “Your special.”
“The world owes you nothing,” Chance told the Journal. “You have to work and compete. If you want to be special, you'll have to prove it."
It’s interesting to speculate on just what kind of message we’ll be divining from currently popular children’s shows when the current generation of toddlers are ready to start paying back their student loans. Running through a list of the top kids’ TV shows, we see titles like Teletubbies (Life is weird), Max & Ruby (There’s always someone more annoying than you), Thomas The Tank Engine (Machines are cool, but the English complain too much), Mr. Meaty (Working sucks), Boohbah (Life is weird; stay away from drugs), Bear In The Big Blue House (Let bears do whatever they want), and Spongebob Squarepants (Life is weird, but drugs help.)
INSULT TO INJURY: Drive, the best show this year to get cancelled after three episodes by Fox (trust me, it’s a crowded field) was supposed to have had its final two episodes burned off on the 4th of July, but Fox pulled the shows at the last minute, moving them to next Friday – Friday the 13th, appropriately enough – and replacing them a screening of Anger Management, one of the most annoying films made by either Adam Sandler or Jack Nicholson (trust me, it’s a crowded field.) In keeping with their treatment of the show, Fox is planning to replace the soundtrack in the last two episodes with armpit farts and raspberries blown by their programming executives.