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AFS Review: Folklorists in the News

Langston Wilkins Explains Popularity of Fred Rogers and Dolly Parton in Wall Street Journal

Friday, November 22, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman

Exploring the reach of pop icons Fred Rogers and Dolly Parton as folk heroes, a recent Wall Street Journal writer turned to folklorist Langston Wilkins to help explain the “explosion of interest” in the two figures, both lauded for their ability to bring people together at a divisive time.

“Folk heroes aren't necessarily anointed because they're unanimously popular (many, from Bonnie and Clyde to Tupac Shakur, have been celebrated for the rebellion they represented). But folk heroes "fulfill a need, and a need that we've always had," says folklorist and ethnomusicologist Langston Collin Wilkins. Those current needs, he says, are being shaped by an era of zero tolerance for opposing viewpoints. "That creates a landscape for people to ascend to folk hero status because they appear to be beyond politics, beyond divisions."

See John Jurgenson, “You're Not Imagining It: Mister Rogers and Dolly Parton Are Everywhere; In these polarized times, a quest to find a new American folk hero,” The Wall Street Journal (November 20, 2019): 

Note that the full article may only be available to WSJ subscribers.

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