This post goes through five heroes of television pop culture. They all had different approaches but shared a common quest to help people improve themselves and in turn the world. They should be celebrated, so today we review who they were and what they did that was so amazing.
1. Bob Ross
Bob Ross, the famous television painter on PBS, with his happy accidents. The show was called The Joy of Painting and aired from 1983-1994.
Bob Ross is a legend. His calming voice and upbeat personality on a TV show with no background music revealed the sounds of brush strokes on a canvas.
Bob Ross is behind the birth of ASMR (a auditory response that produces a pleasant tingling sensation in the body) as a thing. Of course, he didn’t know it and it was not really well known until much later, but this helps us understand why some people were enamored with his show.
As yet, there is no biography based on primary sources to help us understand who he was and why he was so amazing.
What does exist is a text called Happy Clouds, Happy Trees: The Bob Ross Phenomenon. This book is an academic accounting of Bob Ross that uses art theory. It is humanities and rooted in solid analysis.
2. Mr. Rogers
I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be. -Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers started his career in television in 1968, a momentous year of social change. He was part of that social change, working to make the world a better place.
Today, he would be considered a radical, but since he is from the past we accept his work on behalf of global citizenship, freedom, and equality.
Mr. Rogers worked to help kids realize change in the world. They were his target audience. But many more than that were enamored by his calming personality.
From 1968-1976 the Mr Rogers program was broadcast by National Education Television (NET) and then from 1979-2001 his program was broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). NET is the predecessor to PBS.
Who wasn’t enamored by the soundtrack to the show? Won’t you be my neighbor.
“For decades, we have recalled Fred whenever something terrible happened in our world, sharing his comforting words and image on social media.” writes Shea Tuttle, who wrote a book on this shining star.
He testified before congress on children’s programming. Advocating for children then as now is fairly rare (except today when children are being used as pawns by their parents political games).
Describing Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, the program he hosted: “I’ve worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children. We deal with such things as — as the inner drama of childhood. We don’t have to bop somebody over the head to…make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.”
Mr Rogers cared. He was passionate. He advocated for those without a voice. He advocated for healthy relationships and healthy coping behaviors. He helped people think through difficult ideas.
One last great quote from Mr. Rogers– Love is like infinity: You can’t have more or less infinity, and you can’t compare two things to see if they’re ‘equally infinite.’ Infinity just is, and that’s the way I think love is, too.
Share his book with your kids in the car, Mr. Rogers in his own words. The book is called The World According to Mr. Rogers. It is just over an hour of audio, perfect for a short road trip, or if you live in a major city any trip anywhere. Sue Johanson
3. Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo came onto the scene relatively recently. Her work is inspirational for decluttering your life. Kondo’s catchphrase “does it bring you joy?” is a simple yet quintessential question.
Marie Kondo spread joy through housekeeping. But she turned housekeeping into a self-reflexive moment.
Consider yourself in relation to your things and your life. Which has more importance? Which is able to bring you joy?
Having things is not typically a quality that brings someone joy. Joy comes from relationships.
Thinking back on your life through an object helps you to realize whether your sentimental attachment to a thing is worthy of keeping it or whether the sentimental attachment is simply “its cute” or “I like it.”
If you are going through your home deciding what to keep and what to give away, the latter phrases are likely to mean you should not keep a thing.
This is a great practice while shopping too. Ask yourself: what does this do for me? how will it help me?
You can access Marie Kondo on audiobook, including the books Spark Joy and her children’s book KiKi and Jax, which sells for just $3.50 ($2.50 if you sign up for the book club).
4. LaVar Burton
LaVar Burton is famous for his role in Star Trek and as host of the popular PBS show Reading Rainbow.
While as a human he earns his spot for all the positive qualities he brings into the world, he made this list for his work on Reading Rainbow. In a world where television is marketing to kids with silly noises and whining, Burton forged a different path by promoting learning in a fun, jovial manner.
Positive images of black men are rare. LaVar Burton is an amazing representation of black men in TV and an amazing human.
His work shows men with positive, affirmative relationships to children and it promotes reading.
This icon of TV illustrated the importance of reading as a means of exploring the world. He continues to promote reading with his podcast LaVar Burton Reads.
5. Sue Johanson
Talk Sex with Sue is a classic in television history. Without judgement this amazing elderly woman advised the world with genuine, real sex talk. She is alive and well, living in Canada.
Johanson talks about sex directly. She doesn’t try to evade the conversation and she is not overly clinical. She isn’t interested in telling you about how bodies work from a medical stance, she is telling you about pleasure and practical advice for the everyday person.
Johanson has published several works on sex and sexuality. A couple books have even been written about her.
She is an unsung hero of pop culture and has definitely not gotten the publicity she deserves. If you want to hear an excellent radio show interview with Sue Johanson from 2009, listen here.
On her TV show, she explained how bodies work and how to pleasure yourself and others. She did not judge anyone’s sexuality or kinks. Yet she still found room for humor.
Sue Johanson is a hero for teaching our youth and adults about sex. We certainly didn’t learn it in school!
We are living in uncertain times. Our world needs people who embody the qualities of these five TV personalities. They showed the world that change begins with me.
The world can be a better place by learning about others, treating people humanely, being accepting, showing love, and being interested in what motivates them and makes them feel good. These qualities are all motivated by strong underlying values in equality and freedom.
So go out and change the world. learn about people. Be radically accepting.
If you know another beautiful person that might be added to this list, post their name and a brief explanation in the comments.