We so often delude ourselves into thinking that fictional places might be really cool to live in. Here are two essays that explore why this may not be such a good idea. Three Fictional Towns It Would Suck To Live In Sometimes things can be disillusioning. Sometimes these things are small (like figuring out Operation Repo is staged) sometimes they are big (like finding out Tolkien was actually a cyborg sent from the future to establish an elaborate cryptogram that leads to a cure for some disease that hasn't yet mutated into being that just coincidentally happened to resemble a couple of novels). This is about fictitious geographic disillusionment. More precisely three places that seem like they would be cool places to live until you start to think about it. Shermer, Illinois (John Hughes Universe). Why it seems like it would be cool This is the place were so much cool stuff happened. It's filled with hot chicks who's parents forget their birthdays and are erroneously thought to be ugly because they live with Harry Dean Stanton and hang out with Jon Cryer. It's got high schools that stop everything when one student gets (fake) sick. It's got library's in those high schools that serve as crucibles of emotional enlightenment and self awareness on Saturdays. It's got families that string so many Christmas lights on their house that even Lady Gaga goes, “that's tacky!” It's even got hot babes being warped into existence by hacked government mainframes and bras worn on heads......somehow. No wonder Jay and Silent Bob thought it was worth a visit. Why it would actually suck Remember the kids in that library? That was detention. There's five kids in there but only three really deserve to be there. The other two? Well one is there because she has nothing better to do on a Saturday. Seriously? Nothing? This town doesn't even have a dirt filled lot with abandoned tires? Because just kicking around those old tires would surely beat listening to a bunch of teenagers sob about their lives. Hell being a live guinea pig at a zoo to see if the tigers really-can't-get-out-this-time would beat hearing Molly Ringwald emote over the pressure her popular friends put on her. The other one? He was going to fail shop class so he brought a flare gun to school to commit suicide. Wait...what? That's not something you send a kid to detention for that's something you send them to counseling for. What's this school do if they catch someone cutting themselves? Make them run laps around the track? Also does it really make a lot of fiscal sense to have the principle waste his day half-assedly supervising the five kids? Wouldn't it have made more sense to spread out the detention for one hour a day over eight school days when teachers are usually still there to watch them? Okay then there's the fact that the hot chicks are mistakenly thought to be not hot based on frivolous matters of location, boob size and lack of blonde hair. Then suddenly realized to be hot based on pink outfits and.............I forget why the hunk in Sixteen Candles suddenly comes to his senses. Then you have the high school that stops everything because one student gets sick. That does not seem like a school that has its priorities straight. Yes some kids will always be more popular than others but this is just making that entire phenomenon pathological. Imagine you're any other kid that is sick that day and missing school. Say your name is Cameron. Wouldn't the disparity in attention and disruption chafe you a little? The only thing that would be worse is if that same popular kid goaded you into stealing your abusive dads Ferrari, teased you by exhibiting his hot girlfriend naked in front of you near a hot tub and then led you into a situation where the stolen car ends up totally destroyed. Yeah if that all happened too this poor kid would have every right to hunt down and murder the popular bastard. But the topper is that this town seems to have the uncanny ability to bring into existence entities that just should not be via hackneyed nonsensical Hollywood computer hacking and bra's worn on heads. Entities that just don't make sense according to all laws of physics (is that why she divorced Seagal?). Now granted this entity, named Lisa, is like really hot and can just zap awesome sports cars into being with her mind but she is also basically a ticking time bomb. See she turns one guy into living slug because she doesn't like him. What else can she do if she is annoyed? What happens when her menstrual cycle kicks in? Does it suddenly rain Bonbons one moment then fire breathing dragons that hunt down only virile men the next minute? I won't even go near the propensity for the force that created her to also materialize intercontinental nuclear missiles in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Riverdale (somewhere in the Archie Universe) Why it seems like it would be cool This seems like bucolic Americana personified. Like the kind of place Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade would go to snort angel dust. It's got the picturesque high school, old fashioned soda shoppes and a very laid back sensibility. Why it would actually suck It wouldn't take too long for you to notice that most of the teenage girls in this town are foxes. Be them named Veronica, Betty, Cheryl, Josie or Midge they are undeniably hot. While that sounds like a good thing you need to take just a bit of a closer look at the girls in question. Take off their hair and suddenly a very unsettling reality emerges: they are all clones! Seriously they are pretty much just identical duplicates of each other with tiny variations in window dressing. No wonder Archie is continually flummoxed as to whether he should love Betty or Veronica. But this also raises the question of just how such a thing could have happened? Was it like something out of Village of the Damned where everyone is knocked up at once and all the girls just came out like that? If so was it the work of a mad scientist? The government? Aliens? Actually the more unsettling possibility is that they aren't even humans at all. What if they are actually robots? Mass produced somewhere and given slightly different hair to try and fool everyone. But why was that done? What huge nefarious plot does this army of gynoids have a part in? How will it be executed? Maybe Jughead has the right idea avoiding them all together. In fact in doing so he might have attracted the attention of the only real teenage girl in the town, Ethel. Jughead knows what's going down people. Listen to him. Springfield (somewhere near Kentucky and Nevada) Why it seems like it would be cool Springfield of The Simpson's isn't just a place it's where most of the pop culture for the last two decades was invented. It's a place so important to the zeitgeist of modern culture that it might as well be a Smithsonian Exhibit. Plus it's filled to the brim with very wacky people. Why it would actually suck It's filled literally to the brim with wacky people! Springfield isn't so much a town as it is an experiment in letting the patients run the asylum while on PCP! You have to imagine that if this place were created by a malevolent alien species trying to figure out what four fingered yellow humans are like they couldn't have put more dysfunctional people into a more densely packed place without having to hand out a bunch of MTV Video Music Awards at the end of the night. I mean for some reason a public utility is owned by a billionaire that thinks Ayn Rand was too soft. For a good many years his chief safety inspector was a man that is by all accounts retarded. In defiance of all logic the cooling towers at the nuclear power plant in question are filled with glowing green ooze. Also it seems to have near Chernobyl type meltdowns on an unsettlingly regular basis. The town mayor is a pot head that sleeps around with all the grace and tact of Snooki on ecstasy. Which might explain why he has a man even dumber than the nuclear safety inspector as the Chief of Police. The town government is corrupt in the worst way ignoring pot holes that swallow whole cars and building solar powered monorail systems that seem to have only one station on them. On top of that the town is seemingly always in a fiscal crisis despite having a waterfront with a port, ski resorts, two malls, a TV/movie studio, casino district, minor league stadium, two universities and the “for profit” nuclear power plant. One can only conclude that the financial geniuses from Enron, Worldcom and Lehman Brothers apparently all decided to retire there and make it their own Galt's Gulch of fiscal ineptitude. Then you have the school where the teachers are apathetic in a way that usually can only be manifested by being a moral/career counselor for Lindsay Lohan. The Principal is an OCD freak, flashback prone Vietnam vet that was apparently a virgin into his late 40's (not that I'm one to criticize about the last part). And then you have the school janitor that set Scottish stereotypes back in a way that Star Trek never even thought possible. On top of all that you have the bar that serves health inspectors drinks with syringes in them. A convenience store that seems to be anything but convenient. A church that is unabashedly a money making operation. And Krusty conglomerates that drives down entertainment to a lowest common denominator in a way that makes the executives at The Asylum Studios weep at their own inadequacy. The bottom line is that if you were dropped into Springfield you would really be forced to either a) go insane or b) just act like everything is normal (which also involves going insane).