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Contrux Indux 2014: Fred Rogers

8:22:00 AMPaul

Since ConstruxNunchux began we always like to mention people who inspired us and molded us into the person we are. In turn, who we are reflects what kind of content we share, what we create for the site, and who we surround ourselves with. Every human in the world is inspired by something or someone, consciously or subconsciously, and its either a profound life-experience or a simple moment photographed in time. That inspiration can motivate a person to do something great. That inspiration, also, never leaves you. It nestles itself into your mind and makes a home. When you make a decision, or need to dig deep into yourself and create something you look to these moments to light the way. When we say "INSPIRE  ENTERTAIN INNOVATE" as the qualifiers to be immortalized on the honored wall of Castle Construx, we mean it.

The Construx Crew™ were occupied with several projects in 2014 so the inductions were missed and we refused to make hasty choices. So the Construx Core™ will retroactively pick their 2014.

My choice for 2014 is Fred "Mr." Rogers.

Most people I know grew up with this man. The sweaters, the puppets, the warm smile all made this man the face of children's programming for decades. On the surface Mr. Rogers had a massively successful show that enforced the concepts of compassion, imagination, creativity, and learning. Behind the stages, lights, and machines there was a truly exemplary man who had a profound and meaningful impact on everyone around him.

As a child, Mr. Rogers was always a positive calming influence on me that cut through the sugar induced activity and guided me through the confusing (and sometimes intimidating world). Even when I out-grew the show, I still watched him peacefully teach my little brother and sister life lessons watching what I must have looked like soaking up his messages of self-worth and confidence.

Being from Pittsburgh, coupled with his impact on me personally and the entire world it was after some digging that I learned that his demeanor on the show wasn't an act. Mr. Rogers was an incredible human being that was really the person he was on TV. He really gave a shit about you, he really believed that love made the world go round, and he really valued everyone as much as he valued himself.

Here are some things that some people might not know about Fred Rogers that will make you respect the hell out of him.

  • Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  In 1962, he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree and was ordained as a minister in the United Presbyterian Church. He was urged by religious organizations to use his influence to teach children about God. Mr. Rogers refused because he wanted ALL children to enjoy his program and he didn't want to alienate anyone based on religious beliefs. He thought the messages of friendship and love were not only exclusive to Christianity.

  • He loved break-dancing! He really did. The way he takes on new experiences in a non-patronizing way with true appreciation of other's interests is really nice to see.

  • He was straight-edge. He was a vegetarian, didn't smoke, drink, or have any real vices. That doesn't necessarily make a great person automatically but it would have been a real heart-breaker to think of Mr. Rogers with whiskey stains on his pull-overs banging whores.

  • He swam naked. Fred revealed that he swam laps daily to keep his weight at 143 (which was intentional because of the universal belief that 143 = I love you,) at a local club that allowed nude swimming during certain hours. 

  • Mr. Rogers fought the government on VCR recording.When VCRs first came out the fact that you could record a show and watch it later was a big deal. Stations were upset because it would impact ratings, therefor, impacting ad revenue. A coalition formed to try and prevent people from recording shows stating that it was a violation of copyright laws. Well, Fred did't stand for it and fought in court stating that recorded shows fell under the Fair Use. He mentioned that having his show on at different times sometimes does not fit into a family's schedule and that everyone should be able to enjoy his show at the time of the family's digression not the TV station. The Supreme Court made special mention of Mr. Rogers testimony as a factor into their decision to allow VCR recording.
  • He did all the music for the show compiling over 200 composed songs.

  • Mr. Rogers was pro-LGBT  before it was cool . His Presbyterian friend would always push Fred to denounce non-Christians and gays because for some reason that's important to them, but Roger's simply wouldn't. He said "God loves you just the way you are." and leave it at that. He abhorred prejudice of any kind. 

  • He answered ALL his fan mail ... personally. It was apart of his daily routine. Every morning he would answer fan mail from the children handwriting all his replies. On occasion he would pro-actively send a follow up letter asking questions or just checking up on the family.

  • His office had no desk. He wanted everyone not to feel separated or intimated when talking to him in a business capacity.

  • He's got street cred. When his car (an old beat up Chevy Impala) was stolen he, of course, filed a report with the police. It made the news and less than a day later it was returned, undamaged, with an apology note.

  • He was the first children's show to discuss divorce. It was considered taboo by his church but he felt that it was his duty to address the matter. It was becoming a very common and jarring problem for children and he wanted to make sure that the kid who watch his program could do their best coping with the issue.

There are dozens upon dozens more example of the man's greatness but you have the internet so do some work!

Fred Rogers was honored in every way a human can be honored and revered in every way a human can be remembered fondly. He was a person who genuinely, consistently gave a shit about children. He put his work influencing children above everything. He gave 100% of himself to a noble cause and made the world around him a better place. 

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