Mister Rogers’ Holy Ground: Exploring the Media Phenomenology of the Neighborhood and Its Rituals

Phillip J. Hutchison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nearly two decades after Fred Rogers’ death, diverse researchers, journalists, and media critics continue to assess the esteemed broadcaster’s social legacy. The present study expands this discussion by reframing Rogers’ work as religious television versus purely secular educational television. The emergent perspective better accounts for how Rogers not only structured MRN around identifiable Christian practices and values, but also the manner in which audiences perceived these activities as deep, spiritual experiences. Theories of media phenomenology complement ritual models of communication to help edify this perspective. These bodies of theory illuminate the innovative ways Rogers integrated the sensory experience of television with carefully crafted performative rhetorics, all of which transformed Rogers’ children’s programs into a life-affirming neighborhood ministry. In so doing, Rogers demonstrated how the sensory attributes of television created a virtual space that fostered unprecedented intimacy between mass audiences and media performers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Media and Religion
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Religious studies

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