By titling his new movie project ‘Chiraq’, celebrated director Spike Lee has been accused of insulting the residents of the city of Chicago. His movie will take a peek at the violence and education of the city and was criticized for damaging its reputation which in turn hurts the city’s tourism by picking the title.
The term ‘Chiraq’ is a moniker of the city by its young residents, which refers to its street violence and gun crime reputation. Nonetheless, campaigners of anti-gun crime and tourist officials have accused Lee, known for his inflexible portrayals of society conflicts, of spreading a contrary stereotype by choosing the title.
Rapper Aaron Pierce, who runs a mentoring and outreach program, south of Chicago, reacted by speaking to the Chicago Tribune, “I’m just really concerned about using that name. That name does not really give us a positive look. That name belittles our city and I feel like it dehumanizes us.”
Professor Chekitan Dev of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration says, “This is not good news. Anytime a brand is associated with anything negative, that affects the perception of the brand. And this raises an issue important to tourist and that is safety.”
Some residents of the city and some commentators have expressed their concern that a movie with a title and theme, unless handled delicately, not only can it affect tourism but the inclination of investors to invest in the city, in addition to banging the self-assurance of young people who grew up there.
On April 9th, a Thursday, news began to spread that Lee was working hand in hand with upcoming Amazon Studios for Chiraq, and getting big named celebrities likes Kanye West, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven and Common to join the bandwagon.
Critically acclaimed for this cult movie in 1989, Do The Right Thing, Lee who has a fruitful career ever since, has been non-committal about these criticisms.