Generosity, grace and kindness reigned on this week’s “Cogill Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” podcast on reVolver Podcasts as we raise a glass to PBS champion and childhood icon and advocate, Fred Rogers and the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” In celebrating his legacy we also raise a glass to some of the many generous wineries and wine organizations in the country that give back, specifically to help children, like Washington’s Columbia Winery, The Napa Valley Vintners with Auction Napa Valley, and Colby Red. More of Gary’s thoughts on this touching film below.
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Also, we are excited to share a special deal with a fantastic new wine website called Wine Access which features hand-selected, premium wines from across the globe. If you are looking for a few great bottles of bubbles to enjoy with this, or any film, Wine Access has offered our listeneners an incredible deal of 20% off their already well-priced selections, just by clicking here or going to their website, wineaccess.com/cogill.
The Film: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”
I cried openly and often while watching, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” a beautiful, touching film about the iconic television host Fred Rogers, of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” airing nationally on PBS beginning in 1968.
I remember the show as a young child but was not a regular viewer, I was more interested in cartoons and monster movies, but as an adult I have enormous respect for the open-hearted seminarian who looked children in the eye and told them the complicated truth in ways young minds would understand.
Using original songs, a zip up sweater, tennis shoes, puppets and a gentle voice, Fred Rogers was also the writer, producer and creator of his own television world. A world of diversity and acceptance not just for children but for his crew on set.
At one point in “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Mr. Rogers decides to make a strong statement by inviting an African America cast member to take his shoes off and rest his feet in a wading pool next to him, sharing a towel. At the same time across American blacks were being ejected from public swimming pools meant for whites only and Rogers would have no part of it.
It’s a powerful moment in a film filled with numerous statements designed for children living in a troubled world. Racism, assassinations, building a wall, it’s all there and understandable.
For adults, Fred Rogers appeared before the U.S. Commerce Committee in 1969 during the Nixon era when federal funding for PBS was about to be pulled. It was Roger’s soft spoken testimony in defense of children’s programming that saved the day and the network.
There is a profound sadness here that speaks to the heart of our current culture of lying, bullying, and miss-direction. Mr Rogers stood up for the very young and powerless and I’m not sure he would have had full support with an uncontrollable, mean-spirited internet lurking.
Maybe, that’s why I cried so much. There is a pureness without being perfect at work in, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” because the man had such an uncompromised impact on the millions of adults who spent their impressionable years watching him day after day.
Mr. Rogers was remarkable, I have nothing but respect. It’s a five hankie film.