MTV’s The Real World [August 3] is in Wicker Park–so friggin’ what! If these idiots (most don’t even remember what Wicker Park used to be like back in the day) had done something more constructive with their time, hardly anybody would’ve noticed the presence of MTV in the neighborhood. They would’ve shot here for three months and left with little fanfare. Now, thanks to the protesters, the whole country is going to be buzzing about the “controversy” in Wicker Park. Next season’s Real World is probably going to be the highest rated ever and will probably attract more of the kind of people we would rather not see living in the neighborhood. These protesters are contributing to the very problem they’re trying to solve.

I’ve been in Wicker Park since the early 90s, and it saddens me to see the deterioration of our neighborhood with the influx of trendy restaurants, condos, and yuppies. Unfortunately, a lot of the old neighborhood is gone–but I breathe a sigh of relief knowing I can still rent a movie or get coffee at Earwax or buy and sell CDs at Reckless Records or get a bite to eat at Leo’s. Media attention about the bombings in Puerto Rico is something you want people to know about–not this. You have to stop the gentrification problem economically by staying in the neighborhood even if they raise your rent (get rid of your cable if you can’t afford it!)–support local businesses like Myopic Books, Earwax Cafe, and the mom-and-pop grocery stores. Avoid anything “trendy”!

Attacking the cast members of the Real World isn’t going to help either. They haven’t done anything wrong to you. You may think wanting to be famous is a stupid thing, but plenty of people don’t, including myself–that’s one of the reasons I’m an actor. Besides, by putting yourselves out there with these protests, you’ve become a part of the media yourself for the simple fact you’re trying to get a message out. There’s no denying that you will be a part of the very thing you’re trying to bring down (as radical as the group Rage Against the Machine is, they’re still with Sony records, a very big corporate label). These people hate the corporate media so much–but I wonder where they get their Hi-8 video cameras from (which a lot of them had at the August 3 protest)?

In conclusion, I’d like to personally thank the protesters for providing free commercials for MTV and practically handing out invites to the next wave of “trendy” yuppies who probably weren’t planning on moving to Wicker Park in the first place, but now will because of all the controversy. Yeah, thanks–thanks for nothing!

John Shatner

Wicker Park