Showing posts with label Television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Television. Show all posts

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Addams Family Mansion

 Charles Addams and his wife before College Hall, the structure at the University of Pennsylvania that inspired the mansion seen in the Addams Family cartoons.  Known as a "ladies' man," Addams married several beautiful women, none of whom were murdered.  

Friday, January 19, 2024

Washing Our Feet

Like many cities in the South, by 1963, Jackson, Mississippi, closed all of its public swimming pools rather than integrate them as required by the Civil Rights Act.  The city argued that closing the facilities didn't violate the Civil Rights Act because closing the facilities impacted both races equally.  The Supreme Court upheld this view.

In 1969, Fred Rogers's television program, "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood," had a huge impact nationally but still had a very small budget.  Realizing the impact his program had on people, Rogers wanted to say something positive about integration, but since his program was for small children, he didn't want to do it in a confrontational way, and he needed it to not cost very much money to produce.

In "Mr Rogers Neighborhood," actors portrayed the characters children might recognize in their neighborhood.  They were postal workers, police officers, shopkeepers, handymen, and others.  In May 1969, as the issue of integration and public swimming pools grew, Rogers had an idea for a segment involving Officer Clemmons.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Fran├žois Clemmons was a black singer.  By the time he began working for Fred Rogers, he had spent time singing in the Harlem Spiritual Choir and the Metropolitan Opera.  Fred Rogers knew Clemmons was a gay man but hired him anyway for his program, a move that was, by itself, very controversial at the time, especially considering that Rogers was an ordained minister.  Clemmons played the neighborhood policeman, which was somewhat controversial as Mr. Roger's Neighborhood appeared to be white.

Without making any sort of confrontational statement, Rogers thought that Mr Rogers and Officer Clemmons could take off their shoes and dip their feet in a cool plastic wading pool together on a hot summer day.  The taking off or changing of shoes was often used to represent a time of relaxation or intimacy, a letting down of defenses, on the program, as Mr Rogers changed his leather "work shoes" to cloth loafers to begin every show.

Before coming to television, Fred Rogers was a minister.  In the Christian faith, the idea of washing one's feet has a deep spiritual meaning, one he hoped would be evident to adults watching the episode.  For children, he hoped to gently instill the idea that black men and white men could swim together and be friends with nothing to worry about.  When the two finished washing their feet and quietly talking, they shared a towel to dry their feet, reinforcing the "washing of feet" theme while also making it evident that sharing a swim or a towel wasn't dangerous.  He feared that hearing adults argue about integrating swimming pools might make children afraid of it, so this was his gentle means to show them there was nothing to worry about.  

In Mississippi, where much of the argument over integrated pools originated, children like me never saw this episode when it first aired because the Mississippi legislature refused to fund public broadcasting for fear it would spread a communist, race-mixing message, even though the funds for it had already come down from the federal government.  (Sound familiar?)  It wasn't until late in 1969 when the Mississippi Legislature voted to create the Mississippi Public Broadcasting System, which wouldn't go into effect until 1970, almost a year after the pool episode of Mr. Rogers.

In 1993, when Clemmons made his final appearance on Mr Rogers Neighborhood, Rogers and Clemmons recreated the pool scene, where they sang "There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You" together.  After soaking their feet together, Rogers used a towel to dry his own feet and then used the same towel to dry Clemmons' feet, mimicking the moment in Christ's life when he washed the feet of the apostles.   

Fred Rogers understood that gestures are often a far better way to teach than words.  Trying to mend the wounds of the world in the minds of children, he invoked a gesture he knew well from the life of Christ.  Humility creates an environment that breeds love.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Star Trek Honors Actor's Partner

Melissa Navia quickly became a fan favorite on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  Something of a newcomer, fans didn't really know much about her going in, but her magnetic personality soon made her a favorite.  Soon after learning that she had a part in the exciting new series, Navia also found out that her husband had leukemia.  Shortly before the last writer's strike ended, he passed away.  Strange New World writers and Show Runners decided to honor one of the fictitious nebulas in the show after Brian Bannon, Navia's late husband.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Strange New Worlds Episode 4 Memento Mori

If you're curious, Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning: "remember you will die."  You see the expression in the bible, Sirach 7:40 "In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin."  Both have meaning in the episode.

Star Trek Strange New World is catching the world on fire if you haven't heard yet.  Episode 4, Memento Mori, is an ensemble episode, including a good bit of time for my personal favorite: Bruce Horak as Hemmer, the blind passivist Andorian engineer.  

This episode introduces everybody's favorite carnivorous aliens; the Gorn and La'an Noonien-Singh has a personal history with them.  Ethan Peck as Spock shines in this episode, and there seems to be some effort to tie up what some fans consider loose ends in the Spock-Michael Burnham story.  

If you don't have Paramount Plus yet, between Strange New Worlds and The Offer, it really is worth the seven bucks a month (with Amazon Prime).

Official Ted Lasso