Columnist: Why is Baltimore always portrayed as a hellhole?

Is Baltimore this scary?
("The Raven")

Joe Queenan is nobody's Mr. Nice Guy.

But the deliciously cutting columnist has a soft side for, of all things, Baltimore.

In fact in the Wall Street Journal, Queenan rides like a white knight to the city's defense after what he sees as slight after slight from Hollywood. Exhibit A: John Cusack movie "The Raven."

"In the new film "The Raven," innocent people — some of them really nice, innocent people — find themselves buried alive, or garroted, or sliced in half by a pendulum, or missing a tongue, with no reason why such misfortune has befallen them," he writes. "The year is 1849, the time is winter, and once again Baltimore is taking it on the chin."

He demands the entertainment industry cease the "picking on" Charm City.

"For years and years depraved drug dealers and conscienceless hit men and crooked politicians lighted up our TV screens on 'Homicide.' Where was it set? Baltimore. Then came 'The Wire,' which some people have described as the greatest TV show ever. In it, the city that serves as a backdrop for the drama is portrayed as an open sewer, a city that is coming apart at the seams. The city in question? You guessed it. Baltimore," he says, falling into stride. "Again and again, Hollywood has used the city of Baltimore as a punching bag."

A punching bag? Queenan and the city's tourism board should do lunch.

He goes on to mention "Twelve Monkeys," "The Sum of All Fears," "The Invasion" and Hannibal Lecter... all movies where something horrible happens in Baltimore or oozes from the city to mess with other parts of the nation.

Queenan, it turns out, says he travels to Baltimore at least once a year and is a big fan of Fort McHenry, the National Aquarium , the museums, the Maryland Zoo -- he's even been to the National Museum of Dentistry and the Baltimore Symphony.

"I have both entered and left the city with a bounce in my step and a song in my heart. Why, why, why, I ask myself, is Baltimore always portrayed as a hellhole?"

Read more here. And watch for Queenan's key to the city.


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