CHICAGO — Chicagoans are getting very tired of the haters.
Despite the fact that Chicago is not even in the top 19 most violent U.S. cities per capita, cable news personalities and a lot of people who don’t live here or have never visited the city seem to be obsessed with our crime and local politics.
This week, a few fed-up Chicagoans decided to fight back by creating a new line of T-shirts that plead: “Shut The F— Up About Chicago.”
It started after Fox News aired a segment interviewing people about Chicago’s mayoral election — filmed in suburban Naperville, more than 30 miles west of the city.
The clip of Fox News correspondent Gianno Caldwell asking Naperville diners for their two cents on new Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson provoked widespread online mockery and “rubbed a lot of us the wrong way,” said Chicago marketer Matt Lindner, who tweeted about the interview.
The situation was also ironic, given that Caldwell is from Chicago’s South Side and previously scolded someone from Evanston for weighing in on the city.
Amid the backlash on Twitter, Alexis BernardiReis, a senior manager in tech and a proud defender of Chicago, came up with the T-shirt idea. She texted Lindner, who ran with it. He tweeted that someone should make a T-shirt line and also texted a friend in the business, Anthony Hall, owner of Portage Park-based clothing company Harebrained.
Hall jumped on it, quickly making shirts featuring the phrase — now available here and here in both Wrigley Field Marquee and White Sox styles — a display of unity.
Lindner said he hopes provocateur pundits get the message loud and clear.
“Chicago has been the punching bag for people of certain political persuasions, and it seems like every time something bad happens, it’s happening here,” Lindner said. “Chicagoans are well aware of the fact our city is not perfect, there’s a lot to be done to level the playing field.
“But if you’re simply creating the narrative that it’s a war zone, without being constructive about solutions or how there’s good people working on it, then shut the f— up.”
Hall said the shirts have already been “selling better than anything else we’ve made this past year.”
“It drives me nuts when anyone bad mouths Chicago, or talks about the end of Chicago,” Hall said. “So making the shirts has been super cathartic.”
Many who saw the Fox News segment questioned why Caldwell and Fox News didn’t just ask people in Chicago about Chicago’s election.
“But my hunch is they just wanted to go to places that would more likely fit their narrative,” Lindner said. “My wife is from Naperville, I appreciate the value of the suburbs and that Chicago is the economic engine for all of Illinois, but Chicago itself is not short of places where there are voters to talk to.
“I wouldn’t give this interview if it was about Naperville’s mayor. I don’t even know who that is.”
Here are more reactions to the Fox segment:
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: