Well, that’s not very neighborly.
“The Daily Wire” host Andrew Klavan called out Fred Rogers this week for not being manly enough, opening his show on the right-wing website with a rant against the beloved TV personality who created and hosted the preschool hit “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for more than 30 years.
The sweater- and sneaker-wearing Rogers endeared himself to viewers for decades by taking them around the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, which was populated by puppets, while discussing difficult topics like death and divorce, as well as peaceful ways to deal with negative, angry feelings.
But Klavan called the show “absolutely intolerable, unless you happen to be a 3-year-old” — which, in the defense, many of the viewers were — “or a mom who needed to plant her 3-year-old in front of the TV while she took a cigarette break.”
It only gets less PG from there, with Klavan expressing concern that Rogers was a poor influence on impressionable young men:
‘Fred Rogers modeled decency and Christian values, which is great, but he also modeled the misguided form of Christian manhood that looks so much like metrosexual wimpiness [that] it’s really difficult to tell the difference.’
In Klavan’s opinion, Jesus Christ himself was more John Wayne than Mister Rogers, Klavan’s preferred Jesus being “a steely man of integrity who was willing to sacrifice everything to say what needed to be said, and do what needed to be done.”
“Men, real men, are tough,” he continued, because life is dangerous. “A nation full of lovable Mister Rogers [types] is a nation suitable for 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds who are controlled by soft-spoken, sweet-talking, all-powerful government authorities,” Klavan said.
And here’s the money quote: “If you really want to have a beautiful day in the neighborhood, call John Wayne and tell him to bring his guns.”
Viewers on Twitter TWTR, +1.38% , including some identifying as Christian and conservative, quickly came to the defense of Rogers, who died in 2003.
“Completely sad that being genuine and kind equates with being a wimp with this guy,” read one tweet. “So infuriating that someone so pure as Fred Rogers, who made such a positive impact on the lives of millions would be disrespected.” Others recalled Fred Rogers as a prayerful man and noted that he was himself an ordained minister:
Others took issue with the “Daily Wire” personality’s narrow definition of masculinity, or pointed out that Wayne was playing a character. “Who … still thinks John Wayne is the paragon of American masculinity? How old are these people?” tweeted a Chicago literary editor of the Iowa-born actor, né Marion Morrison.
There’s plenty of love out there for Mister Rogers, “Daily Wire” notwithstanding. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Sony Pictures SNE, +2.18% drama featuring Tom Hanks as the titular character, opened in third at the box office last weekend with $13.5 million, and is forecast to perform well through the holidays.