I have to say I’ve had a hard time getting my head around yesterday’s announcement that Amazon’s Twitch streaming service will start offering the full catalog of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes. Twitch, best known as the place to watch over people’s virtual shoulders as they play videogames, seems just by its name to be the antithesis of Mister Rogers’ calm and soothing demeanor. But perhaps that’s the point?
Being well outside the demo for Twitch (probably by about 40 years!), I can’t speak to personal use; and my son is just a bit to old to have had Twitch around when he was into his teenage videogame phase. But what I do know about Twitch – aside from an audience size which gets marketers salivating and that prompted Amazon to buy it – is that along with acceptable content there have been issues both with content and with toxic behavior by the players it streams.
This isn’t the first time Twitch has “broadcast” a mellow callback to a simpler time. In 2015, it had a Bob Ross Joy of Painting marathon, which was well received by Twitch users. Again, Ross’ very mellow and deliberate delivery seems the antithesis to the constant action of most of the content on Twitch’s “channels.”
With the majority of Twitch users being under 35, the odds are that Twitch users watching Mister Rogers (or Bob Ross) are doing so more for ironic viewing or as sources for new memes – certainly the original target demo for Neighborhood was young children rather than young adults. But maybe there will be an appreciation among some of the viewers of not only Mister Rogers’ “be nice” philosophy, but of a media that was slower, kinder, and calmer than the often shrill and overly kinetic content seen today on TV, streaming, and social media.
With his 90th birthday actually falling today, March 20, there is a groundswell of interest in Fred Rogers, 15 years after his death and 17 years after filming the last episode of his Neighborhood. I touched on this increase in interest in a post from early this year when one of a couple of new documentaries was announced, and later news includes a feature film in development starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.
Tom Hanks certainly seems to fits the persona of Mister Rogers. But after my previous post, I pondered who might be a “new” Mister Rogers (not that Fred could ever really be replaced, but you get the point). While Hanks did occur to me, I finally settled on Tim Gunn from Project Runway. He seems like such a nice person, he is always positive and supportive, and has empathy for others. Plus, as a bonus you get the inclusiveness angle that in today’s world, it’s perfectly acceptable that a gay man could step into a similar role as Mister Rogers.
Who would YOU suggest as a “new” Mister Rogers? Let us know in the comments section!
David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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