Today at lunch (to distract myself from all the Christmas presents I have left to buy) I punched “Where the Wild Things Are” into Google. I liked the book as a child and had been struck again watching Spike Jonze’s movie version by the way the story takes children, especially their feelings, seriously. In a rare deviation from standard children’s fare, Jonze’s movie acknowledges the complexity of a child’s emotional world and, even further, embraces that complexity. It struck me as completely right that it should do so and, at the same time, suddenly strange that most kids' movies treat children as simple-minded and in need of constant visual bombardment.
So back to my Google search...what turned up was a blog entry on a site that highlights the influences that converged to make the movie Where the Wild Things Are a reality. The entry is called "Mr. Rogers and the Inner Drama of Childhood." It contains a powerful video of the ever-unflappable Mister Rogers addressing the U.S. Senate in 1969. He's attempting to have his then 2-year-old children’s program spared from Nixon’s public broadcasting budget cuts. I was moved as I listened to Rogers speak of his commitment to address children honestly and plainly, to give credence to their feelings and their everyday life situations, without pandering or exaggeration. Apparently so was John O. Pastore, the subcommittee chairman, who says Rogers’ words have given him goose bumps (and the will to find the cash for his brand of programming).
I take from my run-in with Mister Rogers today this simple but profound reminder – speaking truth to the heart of your audience is a sure way to create big impacts…or better yet, big goose bumps.
Here’s to the man behind the cardigan.
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