Are Those of Us Who Grew-Up with “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” Lazy? (Video)

Fox News blames Mr. Rogers for my generation’s supposed laziness. 

This is a rather dated video (and I apologize in advance for the video quality) but its been making the social media rounds tonight and the topic is still relevant. Fox News cites a study that suggests that those of us who grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood—with the message that we are all special simply for who we are—has created a sense of entitlement and laziness that did not exist in earlier American generations.

Granted, not all the Fox pundits agree that Mr. Rogers is to blame but none of them question the assumption that my generation and  those following are lazy and self-absorbed. Moreover, no one seem to realize that Mr. Rogers began airing in the early 1960s—well in time to be a part of the pundit’s own childhood.

What do you think? Are the Mr. Roger’s generations apathetic and entitled?


About Ross Steinborn

Ross recently graduated from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied Christian theology and gender studies, with a focus on masculinity studies. From central IL, he now lives with his partner in South Boston.


  1. The Baby Boomer generation calling us self-absorbed is the most laughable thing I’ve ever heard. They invented self-absorption.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    I’m quite surprised at Fox News’ stance on this, considering Mr. Rogers was a Christian minister. From the South, no less! You know Fox News has gone really far courting the religious right when it picks on Reverend Fred Rogers as being un-American.

    It’s also somewhat surprising that Fox News would take such an inherently anti-consumer-capitalist position on this. Whatever self-absorption and entitlement Americans possess are some of the primary engines of our consumerist culture. Consumer spending is very much based on our lazy, selfish interests – hundreds of millions of people buying all sorts of unnecessary things to make sure that they do in fact feel special. If Americans stopped being so self-centered, entire industries would collapse at our feet. The whole medium of television entertainment would wither away.

    Is Fox News trying to push us into a deep recession? Is it trying to destroy the very foundations of the television medium?

  3. Disinformation. There is no such study. It’s just a Wall St Journal op-ed:

    An an op-ed, it’s opinion by definition. No data is presented, no real analysis. Instead, Don Chance & Jeffrey Zaslow loosely connect personal experiences to their dislike for Mr. Roger, even though no logical connection is there.

    Frankly, I’m surprised WSJ would publish such a sophomoric piece. I would have held them to a higher standard. Fox News, well, standards isn’t the first word that comes to mind.

    • Brenda Matteson says:

      I share your disappointment with the WSJ–is tabloid journalism in the form of further disseminating, as you rightly call it, sophomoric op/ed really where they’re going?

  4. Holy crap! Look I can take their homophobia and classism. I can even take their racism and Islamaphobia. But they did NOT attack Mr. Rogers!

  5. Brenda Matteson says:

    Okay, yes, I’ve had to manage far too many recent college graduates who have over-inflated senses of themselves and misguided expectations about what an entry-level job actually is, but you cannot blame an entire generation for bad apples. My generation (Gen Jones) certainly has more than its fair share of self-involved, entitled, power-mad monsters. But what fascinates me more is that Fox considers a road less traveled as simple laziness. Is it because many of us these days are trying to back away from insane levels of spending and debt (I’m still recovering my own finances from earlier days of buying the bill of goods my generation was sold that if I worked myself to death and ate bowlfuls of crap, I deserved and could afford tangible luxuries of life)? Is it because younger generations are questioning the absurd lifestyle of “productivity overdrive” that has almost, and often actually, killed their parents and grandparents? Is it because people young and old are now opting to pursue meaning in their lives instead of massive consumption? I look to my younger cohorts as inspiration to get off the hamster wheel and finally take a breather, smell the roses, and calm down–for my health AND my happiness. And Fox wants to blame it all on Mr. Rogers, the guy who got us thinking more about self esteem and simple pleasures–yeah, I guess I can see how he’d be Satan to them!

  6. Eagle35 says:

    Fox news seems to wilfully misunderstand Mister Roger’s actual message.

    At the end of his show, when he gives his departing words and tells the viewer “You’re Special” he does not mean you are above everyone else.

    They probably failed to hear the rest of his message which goes “You’re special, just for being YOU”. It’s giving the viewer a dose of inclusiveness due to their being who they are on the inside. So simple and since we’re dealing with children (his target audience), it’s something they need to hear.

    Then again, this is Fox News we’re dealing with.

  7. My BS Detector went off when only the college was mentioned but not tha name of the professor who made the study.

    After a few minutes of searching online I discovered that the paper was written by a finance professor named Don Chance who taught at Louisiana State University.
    It turns out that Professor Chance contacted Fox News to issue retraction:

    “The reference to Mr. Rogers was just a metaphor. I have no professional qualifications to evaluate the real problems or propose solutions. Mr. Rogers was a great American. I watched him with my children and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if I had young children.”

    I suppose it was too late to prevent the idea that a Presbyterian minister who taught children that they were unique, that there was no one else who was exactly like them. This meant that they could learn something from everyone and that they themselves could teach.
    He also taught to say, mister and misses when speaking to adults.

    But I fear that the Mister Rogers is responsible for a feeling of entitlement among Gen X.
    Yea, right. As apposed to talking about a culture focused on material wealth and fame for it’s own sake.

    Fred McFeely Rogers birthday is on the 20th of March.
    I’ll be wearing a new sweater for that day!

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