Friday, April 10, 2015

Rahm win, inner-city Chicago both get pot shots aimed at Second City image

I couldn’t help but notice a pair of Chicago Tribune stories about entertainment industry personalities taking their shots at the public image of our fair Second City.

Jon Stewart, the actor and soon-to-be former person who anchors the “fake news” Daily Show on Comedy Central, did a commentary this week denouncing the people of Chicago.

OR AT LEAST the 56 percent of those who bothered to vote for mayor who cast their ballots for the re-election of Rahm Emanuel for another four-year term.

Does this mean the 44 percent who wanted Chuy Garcia as mayor, along with the roughly 60 percent of registered voters who didn’t bother to vote and the just over half of Chicago who aren’t even registered to vote are somehow forgiven for what was done to them in the name of Democracy?

Stewart, who in the past has mocked the idea that his entertainment-oriented program is viewed as serious news programming by anybody, said on Wednesday that Emanuel has “a terrible record and a universally recognized abrasive personality.”

Which is all true enough. Although I don’t think that, in and of itself, makes for a compelling argument of condemning Chicago as a whole for his re-election – which just about anyone with sense saw happening.

THE ONLY REAL question is with the opposition being unable to garner enough support to win the run-off election held Tuesday, why couldn’t Emanuel just get enough voter support back in the original municipal election on Feb. 24?

If it was going to be nothing more than a repeat of Rahm for “four more years,” why go through the hassle of the second election? At the very least, I’m sure the past few weeks aggravated the ulcers of a few politically-oriented Chicagoans.

Although I don’t think Chicago was really being lambasted all that much. Stewart plays his material for laughs – even if it is at the expense of public officials. Whom quite frankly are often people who are worthy of our public derision!

If anything, Stewart’s funniest line might have been at Garcia’s expense – pointing out that had he won, he’d be the fourth-most prominent Chuy in the United States. Behind the Chewbacca character, chewy granola bars and the dwarf that third-rate entertainer Chelsea Handler often uses as a punch line for her own material.

BUT I’M NOT concerned about Stewart’s blow as much as I am about the announcement that film director Spike Lee has a new Chicago-oriented project he’s making – one that will feature actor Samuel L. Jackson, along with area natives Jeremy Piven and Kanye West.

It’s going to be called “Chiraq,” as in the name that many inner-city residents have taken to using to refer to Chicago. It plays off the name “Iraq” and is meant to imply that our city’s level of street violence is comparable to the Middle East war zones where U.S. troops have died.

It may just be a movie. It may just be a work of fiction.

But Lee is invariably going to be turning public attention to the segment of Chicago that many of us like to pretend either doesn’t exist or is somehow isolated enough from the rest of us that we don’t have to think about it.

THE REV. MICHAEL Pfleger has pointed out that Lee was in Chicago at his Auburn/Gresham neighborhood parish church back in January and spent a day interviewing local residents who have to cope with street violence every day of their lives.

Regardless of how over-the-top the Spike Lee film may wind up being, there’s going to be a touch of reality reflected in the project – some of which was noted in Stewart’s denunciation of Emanuel voters.

That reality may wind up hurting us far more than any rant from Stewart; who is, after all, the clown who thinks there’s anything particularly special about pizza in New York.


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