By Kristen Palmer, Communications Intern
“Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee I ee I oh! And on that farm he had a cow, Ee I ee I oh!”
If you’re a normal person, you will recognize this song immediately (and sing it to yourself for the rest of the day). Now add some drums, a synthesizer, and some Auto- Tune, and it may not be so recognizable.
That’s what PBS Digital Studios did to clips from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” an American television series aimed toward children ages 2 to 5 but loved by all. If you watched TV any time between 1968 and 2001, you were touched by Mister Rogers.
John D. Boswell, AKA melodysheep, created the remix and posted it Thursday, June 7. By Friday, June 8, it had more than 700,000 views. It was at the top of YouTube’s trending video list and also on the front page of Reddit. As of today, it has been viewed over 5 million times! And the response is surprisingly positive.
The video expounds on some of Mister Rogers’ favorite life lessons: “You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.” Kevin Morrison, COO of the Fred Rogers Company, said, “The message that it’s good to be curious, to use your imagination, and that ideas are the ‘garden produce’ of a fertile mind was something he stressed throughout his career.” Mister Rogers was all about cultivating the mind.
I scrolled through viewers’ responses and found that most of them liked the remix. Some were even brought to tears (seems a bit dramatic, huh?).
PBS wants to bring Mister Rogers back, “repackaged for the Internet generation,” and it seems to be working. The Service is planning to release more remixed videos of famous notable figures to introduce them to a new generation – a generation that craves the things of the Internet, noise and maybe even a little bit of chaos (a generation that would never be able to sit through 30 minutes of Mister Rogers’ monotone enlightening).
BUT, Auto-Tune, it is an “audio processor which uses proprietary software to alter pitch in vocal and instrumental recordings.” It is often used to manipulate recorded voices of people to conform to a melody as if they are singing. And it just doesn’t seem right that the words “manipulate” and “Mister Rogers” would appear in the same sentence.
“I think children can spot a phony a mile away,” said Rogers before he died. The TV personality was not so much an actor – he was himself. And that’s why we listened. Rogers was authentic and genuine, and the remix strips him of that. The remix is a derivative art form, which means it builds on another work of art – Mister Rogers himself.
Do you agree?