An asteroid in the solar system may one day collide with Earth and destroy us all, but I am watching Mister Rogers playing “Joy to the World” on a line of glass bottles, filled with fruit juice to make different notes, and I am happy.
You can be happy, too, because Twitch is streaming every episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” starting this week. The stream is serving as a fundraiser for PBS. Twitch and PBS have teamed up for other nostalgia-mining marathons, such as Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” and Julia Child’s “The French Chef.”
The stream launched Monday afternoon and will run uninterrupted for 18 consecutive days, Twitch said. They’re airing each episode in chronological order.
Twitch’s head of creative, Bill Moorier, said in a statement that they picked “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for their latest marathon because “Fred Rogers was a positive voice in fostering inclusivity and diversity, and, like our streamers, he talked to the viewers as if they were in the room with him.” But the marathon is also a clever way to trick adults like me, who grew up with this program, to ride a wave of nostalgia to when they could feel the pure, innocent joy of childhood curiosity.
But the Internet can ruin anything, even “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The chat running alongside the marathon is full of all sorts of garbage, especially sex jokes. You can just hide the chat, if the inevitable chaos of the Internet isn’t welcome for you in Mister Rogers’s world.
However, the chat also has produced some genuinely sweet moments. The chat begs Rogers to stay at the end of each episode when he says goodbye. When Rogers encouraged viewers to guess what he’s making with four chairs and a blanket in one episode, the chatters gleefully guess he’s making a fort. And the chat politely says “thank you” to guests who show up throughout the show to teach them new things.
The last new episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” aired in 2001, but Rogers’s messages have remained a presence on the Internet even in 2017: Whenever PBS’s funding is threatened, a 1969 clip of Rogers defending public television to a Senate subcommittee emerges; and his famous quote about encouraging children to “look for the helpers” is reliably shared on social media in the immediate aftermath of a tragic or violent event.
Mister Rogers, like all of us will be, is dead. This stream reminds me of the things he contributed that live beyond him.
But maybe consider hiding the chat.