I was quite interested in the Twitter back-and-forth about the shooting of the corporate ad…I mean movie in downtown Rochester. While there were others participating, the two main participants were reporter Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) and local attorney Peter Gregory (@PeterJGregory). While many have been swooning over the cartoon character and his crew, Rachel has been tweeting and blogging about some of the unintended effects of closing down our downtown for over a week. Peter and his twitter-horts have been arguing that all of this is good for “Rochester”. As I processed the conversation, I realized something that is very important.
Before I get to my realization, I’ll start with a disclaimer. This movie being shot in downtown Rochester does not affect me. Oh sure, I’ve had to change my driving habits a bit, but I usually have to do the same for bad drivers, potholes, that guy who walks into the street asking for change at the Inter Loop ramp at Main Street, accidents, construction and whatever other weird thing that is happening on any given day.
My realization started taking shape when some contacted me at work. (I do systems advocacy work at the Center for Disability Rights) This person commented that the re-routing of buses has made it so that people with and without disabilities were being dropped off to catch other buses on the Broad Street Bridge and that it was a dangerous situation. Bus and City officials as well as media people were basically telling this guy to buzz off.
Then today, Rachel tweeted about people being stuck out in the rain, waiting for buses on that same bridge and the only reaction others had was more about how good this movie was for Rochester. So I started thinking about whose “Rochester” this movie is good for. It seems as if this movie is good for all the people who can take off of work or school to come stand around downtown to watch the proceedings. It seems as if this movie is good for all the people who have middle class jobs in office buildings downtown whose biggest concern is if the parking garage they use will be blocked for them to get home. It’s good for public officials who “forget” their speeches.
But do you know whom it’s not good for? It’s not good for the working people who have to have two or three jobs to survive and need to get to them whether it is by car or bus. It’s not good for the people who don’t have a choice if they want to use public transportation to get to work or school. It sure isn’t good for the guy who lost his job because the bus changes made him late for work twice this week (true story).
And what struck me is that almost ALL of our government decisions ignore these very same people. Decisions about our budgets, development, schools, and yes, movie shootings, do not take the poor and working class into account. In fact, they seem to take everyone else into account EXCEPT for the poor and working class.
So should the Mayor have told Spidey to buzz off? Not necessarily. But he should have worked harder to make sure the people who have the most to lose do not lose what they have. And if it wasn’t possible, then yes, he should have declined the offer to have the movie shot here. The question needs to be asked. Who is more important, the people who think it’s “cool” to have a movie shot in our city or the people who are just trying to survive?
We now know who our current leaders think are more important. And that’s why those on the Green Rochester slate are running for office.