Monday, May 17, 2004

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The real reason to boycott The Day After Tomorrow

Glenn Reynolds has a post up about the absurd environmentalism that undergirds The Day After Tomorrow, a disaster movie coming soon to a theater near you. has touted the film as, "The Movie the White House Doesn't Want You to See."

We here at tend to cast a skeptical eye on the bashing of action movies for their political content -- mostly because all action movies have their built-in political absurdities. Any principled moviegoer choosing to abstain from action movies with political or factual absurdities would be unable to go to any of these movies. Since we here at also like to see explosions, chases, and digitally-enhanced mayhem on a regular basis, we cannot recommend boycotting The Day After Tomorrow because of silly envoronmentalism.

However, as a loyal Chicagoan, I can recommend that all current and former residents of this great city boycott the movie because of what director Roland Emmerich told Entertainment Weekly about setting the film in New York City as opposed to Chicago (subscription required):

Once again, the German-born Emmerich annihilates beloved landmarks (buh-bye, Hollywood sign!). But coming less than three years after Sept. 11, he had doubts about setting the film primarily in the Big Apple. ''It was a big discussion for me: Can I do this movie in New York? Is it in bad taste?'' he says. ''We decided that because New York is the symbol of Western civilization, it has to be New York. We could have shot this movie in Chicago, but what is the worldwide recognition of Chicago?'' (emphasis added)

I'll concede that New York City may be the most easily recognized city in the world.

But claiming that Chicago doesn't have any "worldwide recognition" smacks of provincialism.

posted by Dan on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM


I was planning to boycott this film because I've heard that its a terrible film. I never really thought about any kind of political undertones to it.

posted by: sam on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

I think it should have been Chicago.

I for one would have been much more interested in seeing a movie about Chicago being destroyed.

Frankly I don't think the entertainment industry fantasizes about destroying Chicago often enough. It seems to be the epicenter for movies about high-powered sales execs and curmudgeonly newspaper editors. (Which in turn seem like good enough reasons to want to destroy the place, in the movie universe that is.)

mmm mixed blessings.

(disclaimer: my dislike of chicago is long standing and has nothing to do with this blog.)

posted by: kdt on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Things could be worse. Dan Drezner could live in Houston. We truly are the Rodney Dangerfield of American cities. I have a better reason to boycott the film: it apparently is highly recommended by the Al Gore. His approval is a kiss of death. What the heck would he know about excitement?

posted by: David Thomson on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Oh please. New York City is the greatest city on Earth. Chicago is cold, windy, dreary, racially segregated, socio-economically hierarchical, and everyone is always groaning about how much their Cubs suck. There is nothing world class about Chicago other than complaints.

Comparing New York and Chicago is like comparing the LA Lakers to Lehigh basketball. It's just not worth the effort.

posted by: dellis on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Hey...Atlanta hasn't been destroyed good and proper since Gone with the Wind! After the '96 Olympics, I imagine that America would flock to a disaster flick where Atlanta expired in a miasma of heat and pollution...

(oops, that would just be August situation normal here...Make that, Atlanta is frozen solid as a result of global warming. That's a fantasy that can keep me going till October...)

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

I seem to remember some equal treatment destruction for quite a few US cities in "Independence Day". Wasn't Houston even nuked?

posted by: Jan Haugland on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

I'd imagine the worldwide recognition of Chicago is limited to the gangster era. In any case, Chicago's so flat it would have been a pretty short film. If this film destroys the Hollywood sign, you might want to note that that's at about 1675' (Mt. Lee) above sea level.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Actually, the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan are still recognized world-wide !

Dan, your wounded cry for respect does show that you are afflicted with the syndrome of 2nd class city resident (all credits to Atrios, who posted the following):

"I've frequently said there are three kinds of cities (or colleges or countries or sports teams or insert any similar entity here).

People who live in 1st class cities never feel the need to tell everyone how great their city is. It speaks for itself. Think New York, Paris.

People who live in 2nd class cities feel the need to proclaim their greatness, and to convince you that they really are 1st class cities.

People who live in 3rd class cities just accept their lot and get on with their lives.
(oddly, Philadelphia is a 2nd class city with a 3rd class attitude)."

posted by: ch2 on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

As a Chicago-born New Yorker, one of my favorite things about my old home town is that the people there were confident enough in their greatness that they didn't suffer comparisons to other cities. Walk it off, Dan.

Also, let's not forget that the White House invited's response by forbidding NASA scientists from commenting on it.

posted by: pickabone on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

With the loss of the twin towers in New York, I am inclined to think that Paris, with the Eiffel Tower, may now be the most internationally recognized city.

posted by: Bruce Bartlett on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

The Sears Tower, the John Hancock building and the Stone Container Building (the slanted-diamond shaped roof building) are all pretty instantly recongnizable to me.

My biggest beef in "When Harry Met Sally" was when they departed from the U of C headed for NY, but were shown driving south towards the Loop on Lakeshore Drive, by Lincoln Park. That was totally bogus.

posted by: Barry Posner on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]


It's 2004: the Cubs don't suck anymore. Might want to renew your subscription to the Sporting News.


I gotta side with pickabone: this is not worth getting your panties in a twist about.

Chicagoans should thank Hollywood pinheads for helping to keep their global profile low (tall buildings? nah, we don't got none here).

Paris regularly gets nuked or blasted by aliens, as do NY and Washington DC (all those instantly recognizable monuments). Let's all agree that we don't want to see this happen in real life. But why in God's name would anyone want to join this elite circle of globally recognizable cityscapes when all it seems to get you is unwanted attention by jihadi psychos?

posted by: Kelli on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]


Of course, there's real geography, then there's the show biz variant. I mean, are there ANY hospitals close to the Trib building on Michigan Ave.? No way. So why are the ER doctors always wandering around by the River in that vicinity? The West Wing writers don't take verisimilitude far enough to consult a road atlas when sending their characters out of the safety of the White House (good thing they're cooped up there most of the time).

posted by: Kelli on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

“But why in God's name would anyone want to join this elite circle of globally recognizable cityscapes when all it seems t?W?W???ted attention by jihadi psychos?”

Yeah, but my feelings are hurt. Why doesn’t anybody want to bomb Houston? Who did we offend? It must be our hot summers. No self respecting terrorist wants to endure 100 degree plus temperatures.

posted by: David Thomson on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Hell, Houston is Paris compared to Dallas. Dallas may very well be the most boring metropolis in the world. It is a full day's drive to any scenery, there is little culture, no appealing history.

The suburbs and exurbs are considered great places to raise a family, precisely because of its Waspish mediocrity.

posted by: bob mcmanus on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Let em keep dissing Chicago. We know its the best kept secret in the world. Best food, best people, most entertaining politicians, even a real live mafia still running things instead of the joke New York has devolved into (must hurt when the greatest Mafia show ever is based in NJ huh? Outsourcing... Dan should jump on that). What other city is there where being a celebrity wont get you a table at Gibsons but having played little league with the owner 30 years ago will? Say what you want about baseball, Wrigley Field is the greatest place on earth to spend an afternoon... and everyone knows it. Plus NY is just ugly. Go walk through Grant Park in the spring and watch the sailboats. Nothing close to that in NY (unless you count bums urinating in Times Square of course). Just keep ignoring us. And dont move here.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Look, it's pretty simple. Screenwriters write about the places they know: Los Angeles (where they live) and New York (where they used to live).

To be more specific, human civilization largely consists of the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive and the Empire State Building.

Well-traveled screenwriters may occasionally place scenes in Century City, Venice Beach, Central Park or Times Square. Everywhere else is generic Spielbergian suburbs or The Sticks. The Sticks come in six flavors: Main Street, Cornfields (found just outside Main Street), Jungle, Blizzard, Desert and Battlefield. The last four may occur on Earth or on Alien Planet.

The only other known cities in Movieland are San Francisco, which consists of the Golden Gate Bridge; London, which exists only in James Bond and Hugh Grant movies; Paris, the default foreign city, which consists of the Eiffel Tower; Moscow, the default bad-guy city, which consists of Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral; and Future City, where all buildings were built at the same time and are a thousand stories high.

Other cities (Chicago, Boston, Seattle, etc.) exist only on TV, and are all shot in Vancouver BC.

posted by: Mike on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Chicago, Chicago...

Yeah, I think I changed planes there once.

posted by: GT on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

A good thing about Chicago: a honking big Crate & Barrel outlet in the far suburbs.

posted by: Sam on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

The other reason The Day After Tomorrow should have been filmed in Chicago is to save money on special effects. Why go to all the trouble of making New York look like an ice age hit it, when you can go to Chicago and get the same effect for free anytime between November and April?

posted by: Scott Forbes on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

*Comparing New York and Chicago is like comparing the LA Lakers to Lehigh basketball.*

Paraphrasing a recruiter quoted on page 1 of the WSJ:

"The secomd most difficult job I have is recruiting someone to move from New York to Chicago. The most difficult job I have is getting them to move back."

And don't worry about the Cubs. It's the Mets that suck and you have 7 newspapers whinning about it every day.

posted by: Chuck on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

*are there ANY hospitals close to the Trib building on Michigan Ave.*

Northwestern (University) Memorial is about half a mile away.

posted by: Chuck on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

I encourage EVERYONE reading the blogs go see this movie then they can honestly tell EVERYONE else how terrible it is and how bad the science is and what a Hack Gore is for recommending it as a portent of things to come.

posted by: gmroper on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Actually, "provincialism" would be a Chicagoan deluding himself into thinking that his home is even remotely as recognizable as New York.

posted by: Conrad on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

I don't know anything about Chicago and I was born there (OK that's one thing I know)

posted by: maor on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

what a Hack Gore is for recommending it as a portent of things to come.

Gore never said the movie was a portent of things to come. I challenge you to find this quote (and not from some blog or opinion, from a real newspaper or transcript).

posted by: ch2 on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

But just because writers/producers might have a political agenda, the viewer should be able to enjoy a movie for its own sake. Especially these days: we are strongly polarized. I don't see many people politically swayed by anything, let alone an action flick. I do see them get more easily upset by any suggestion of a political overtone, tho.

And, Gore's endorsement probably did not help.

(ps - they really call it the "Stone Container" bldg? ugh.)

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

All you folks should be glad you don't live (or used to live) in Tokyo. For a while, every time Toho Films came out with a new movie, Tokyo would get smashed into the ground by Godzilla, Ghidrah, Gamerra, Rodan, Mechazilla, etc. At least, it was profitable for the building trades unions.

posted by: Bruce Lagasse on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

And people in 4th class cities keep having to pretend they're from somewhere else, lest they be bombarded with a clichéd derogatory rhyme about their hometown.

posted by: Keith Tyler on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Oh, don't give me your "they went down the wrong road" bickering.

For my current nearest big city, the wide majority of movies that take place in it are actually filmed in not just a different *city*, but a different COUNTRY. Top that.

posted by: Keith Tyler on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

I live near D.C. and spend a LOT of time in New York and Chicago. Just came back from the Windy City, will be in the Big Apple again in two weeks. I have to disagree with the quote above:

"Chicago is cold, windy, dreary, racially segregated, socio-economically hierarchical, and everyone is always groaning about how much their Cubs suck"

That's a statement I suspect uttered by someone who has never been to or spent little time in Chicago. Except for cold (not always) and windy (duh), the rest of that description sounds about right to describe ANY big city. Oh, substitute "Mets" for "Cubs" and it applies directly to New York.

Great town, great food, fantastic to walk around and surprisingly clean, especially compared to New York — though not up to Seattle (or Vancouver!) standards. My biggest gripe would be the union strangle-hold on the town.

Hmmmn, I think I just stumbled upon the proper comparison for the sentiment for and between the two cities... Chicago is to New York as Canada is to the US.

posted by: tmid on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Having lived in Chicago all my life I want
to let all of you who are not here know that
it is positively the worst place on earth to

We are all unfriendly. None of us ever bother
taking baths. The food is terrible. All of
the seats in Wrigly Field are behind posts.
The isn't a single world-class object in the
Art Institute. The weather is always miserable.
Parking costs a fortune. Nobody has a sense
of humor. The Sears Building is no longer the
tallest in the world. Commuting via rail or
public transit is next to impossible.

Leave us alone please. The lines at Manny's
are way too long as it it.

posted by: pragmatist on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Pragmatist, I see how you are indeed a Chicagoan.

Don't forget to mention our 3rd class architecture, and our narrow, uninviting side streets completely devoid of trees and greenery. And we are so NOT cosmopolitan, no vibrant neighborhoods of Greeks, Mexicans, Italians, Peurto Ricans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Scandinavians, Polish, or Russian here. AND NO FRENCH HERE, none whatsoever--theres not even French food here, only Wrigley Field hotdogs and cheeseburgers. Very uncultured...

To all the uppercrust moonbats (directors and otherwise), and jihadists, Chicago is so unappealing. Stay in New York.

posted by: Carolynn on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Cute comments, everyone.

I second Atrios' comments. Having lived in both cities for almost half my life (an anniversary I'm not looking forward to), I'd say the closest comparison to Chicago is Brooklyn (had the Dodgers stayed). Both get defensive about New York (more specifically, Manhattan), and make wild claims about their greatness in response.

A few not-so-random thoughts on the subject:

While it's true that we have a diverse array of ethnicities here in Chicago, they don't venture out of their own neighborhoods very much, save for going to work in the Loop.

Incidentally, Chicago's transit system is designed to get people to and from the Loop, up and down the lakeshore, to the airports, and not much else. Don't believe me? Just look at a map of the El, or try to get from Logan Square/Wicker Park to anywhere north of the Loop along the lake. It's usually easier to just hail a cab (if cabs were available west of Halstead, which they're not. You have to call instead and wait up to an hour). Buses can work, if they kept running past 1am. I know, I know, running past 1am? Where do I think I live, New York?

As for racial segregation, here's a little test for my fellow Chicagoans: Count the number of members of the race opposite from yours in your neighborhood after 7pm. If the percentage gets above 5%, you're probably a hop, skip and a jump from Prof. Drezner's school (and, incidentally, my alma mater) in Hyde Park, a dot of racial mixing in a sea of bifurcation, and a testy mix at that.

To be fair, things have improved dramatically in the 16 years I've been here, but I get grumpy when 1) I'm reminded that I don't live in New York anymore and 2) People from Chicago claim that, by gum, Chicago's just as good as New York, if not better! I'm happy to live here, just not relative to living in New York, and if my career allowed it I would move back in a second.

Chicago would be better off borrowing from Atrios' town and acting like a 3rd class city instead of carrying this ridiculous chip on its shoulder.

PS: One thing I would definitely miss moving back: listening to NPR's programming on Saturday morning/early afternoon ("Wait, Wait", "Waddaya Know?", "This American Life", all the way through to "Prarie Home Companion"). I listened to the NYC NPR affiliate on a Saturday a while ago, and they don't compare.

posted by: Noel on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Its a good thing that chicago doesnt get as much attention as other "major" cities in the world, the people of chicago like it this way. We dont want any other people comming in into our city and making it as scummy as theirs, i will admit that out city wasnt always like this but it has become much better ever since mayor O'daley took office...he has tranformed chicago into the "Garden City" because of it beautiful landscaping and scenery. Now which other city seems to have this? None. All of the other cities are polluted, ugly, and are full of crime.

P.S. Thats why Donald Trump chose Chicago as the city to build his new builidng that could be made into the worlds tallest accoding to many sources. This after he took down the dishes from the antenna of the building plans, so who knows maybe in 2007 Chicago will once again hold the title for having the talelst builing in the world.

posted by: Isaac on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

Emmerich must be taking city-bashing lessons from Cindy Adams.You should have heard the way that bitch trashed my beloved Boston in her idiotic columns during the Democratic Convention back in August.

posted by: Chris Oakley on 05.17.04 at 12:19 PM [permalink]

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