Monday, January 30

Dark tourism: trivialization, morbidity and homage in the places of death



Where is the difference between a ‘Call of duty’ screen and a bombing raid on Kherson? That the overdose of wild content plasticizes to the point of insensitivity could explain this lack of clarity, a real case of a patient, to distinguish between a combat video game and the truth of the war in Ukraine, but also the disturbing selfies pouting in Auschwitz, relegated According to those who visit the theme park of extermination, come and see. Or the portraits at the memorial of the victims in Berlin, which in 2019 inspired the ‘Yolocaust’ project by the Israeli Shahak Saphira to denounce the lack of respect of those who photograph themselves doing acrobatic yoga –or directly the dead person, disjointed by the grimace– between the 2,711 cement blocks that symbolize the tombs of the Jews. Not to mention right here, in Spain, the posturing photocall that the flame has become in tribute to the deceased from Covid located in the heart of the capital, with the mouth of the Gran Vía or the Cibeles fountain to choose from background to finish off the frame. “There are so many images circulating about violence that in the end people end up not knowing if all of this is real, if it is fake or if it is a video game, and in the end there is a trivialization effect.” Exposes the psychoanalyst and professor of Psychology at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) José R. Ubieto, who assigns an initiation responsibility for this phenomenon to capitalism, to the voracity of mass tourism «which recycles everything as merchandise: the revolt, suffering, misery, protest…”, eventually becoming consumer objects in all their forms. And what has been said, from there to its trivialization there is only one step. The antidote, claims the expert, is to contextualize, to have “reading information, reflection”, that these approaches, certain visits “be guided, accompanied by explanations that help to understand the meaning of a dictatorship, a fascism, of injustices, on everything to the young. Co-author of ‘Welcome metaverse?. Presence, body and avatars in the digital age’, he warns that «the metaverse in which we live more and more is not life». With the common denominator of death or its threat, today not only cemeteries or the hells of Nazism are visited. For $250,000 anyone can become “one of the few to see the Titanic with their own eyes,” promotes the Ocean Gate company, that is, dive to the exact point where 1,517 passengers perished in 1912. The Dallas square where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 or the Memphis motel where Martin Luther King was shot five years later are a pilgrimage. Human disasters such as Hiroshima or ground zero on 9/11, and natural ones, read the La Palma volcano and the most gruesome, New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina or the beaches of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, –5,300 drowned, 2,800 disappeared–, in addition to the wars themselves, constitute a step beyond. Routes have been sold for a long time to see the scars of the one in Bosnia. In kyiv, there are those who went out this summer, when the Russian offensive seemed to die down, to be photographed kilometers away in the outskirts with the charred skeletons of enemy tanks and the facades blown up by artillery. Prior to reality For Elsa Soro, doctor in Communication Sciences and academic coordinator of the School of Tourism of the University of Barcelona (CETT), the familiarity that we show when relating to these scenarios is due to the fact that, many times, “in the In the minds of the viewers, the images were already seen in fiction before in reality, an effect that has a psychological and media path that studies theorize as ‘remediation’”, based on which “confusion occurs”. More than war or cataclysmic films, the impact of television series currently weighs heavily, “it is worth thinking how much it has promoted destinations such as Mexico or the Colombia of Pablo Escobar ‘Narcos’.” On the sidelines, the researcher stresses the aspect of tourism as «a leisure activity», in which the tourist behaves as such, «although this condition coexists with another linked to memory in experiences such as going to see the crematoriums, which which can give rise to controversial behaviour”. She points to the 2016 film ‘Austerlitz’ by German Sergei Loznitsa, shot at Nazi sites, “a non-condemnifying observation of visitors who basically walk around, eat their sandwich… I can’t stop being a tourist,” she concludes. The trend towards the feverish commercialization of the macabre and the tragic has made certain enclaves a “trophy” of the networks. On Instagram and other virtual shop windows it seems that showing off with the misfortune of others as a set sells, and in what way. Viralization is guaranteed. In fact, “statistically,” says Ubieta, those who go to places of tragedy do so mostly “pushed by the desire for ‘I was there'”, or explained in another way, “by that very contemporary idea of ​​’fear of missing out’”, ‘FOMO’ in its acronym in English. The fear of missing out on what is branded as interesting, which goes by fashion. It is not the only motivation that feeds this so-called ‘thanatotourism’, ‘dark tourism’ or ‘black’, coined in 1996 as ‘dark tourism’ by John Lennon and Malcolm Foley to name that attraction for atrocity, although it is as old as the weather. There are the gladiatorial games. Behind these inclinations are commonly identified at least two other drives. There are those who travel to the gruesome because in one way or another they are part of his life, of memory, of his family, which therefore refers to a moral vocation to pay homage and remembrance. And there are also those who do it to see if they can still smell the blood, feel the terror, that very human passion for violence that horrifies and fascinates at the same time and that alludes to morbidity. “For a few, it can feed a pre-existing pathological delusion,” Ubieto points out. Psychopaths who go to places as sanctuaries for their ghosts. At another extreme, the German term ‘schadenfreude’ is cited, complacency with the evil of the other related to sadism. To these reasons, there are scholars who add the pure desire to learn and understand what happened. In the opinion of Pablo Díaz Luque, professor of Economics and Business Studies, also at the UOC, Pablo Díaz Luque owes this didactic force the public success of the former Men’s Penitentiary Center in Barcelona, ​​La Modelo, which opened its doors to visitors in 2018. and, –pandesis of the pandemic involved–, it has more than 154,000. Reservations open from two months to two and run out in minutes, warns him on his website. «It is not an example of banal tourism, it has been valued from the historical point of view within the context of the city, as well as architectural… you have to think that it could have ended up demolished and yet now it is a heritage to be preserved », emphasizes in favor of the positive aspects of this also called «pain tourism», «scary tourism» or, more specifically here «prison tourism», in which the prison of Robben Island, South Africa, Nelson’s captivity is also inserted Mandela, which for the professor has also been configured as “an important pilgrimage destination against apartheid”. To the same subgenre, however, other prisons belong, such as Alcatraz, in the United States. A whole classic. 6,000 people pass through it every day. But for Luque, that prison is an example of “tourism that seeks the dark, the mythical escape, the spectacle” as is the one in Ljubljana, in Slovenia, converted into the Hotel Celica, which promotes itself openly with a “¿ Would you like to spend the night behind bars?” . “He does not sell the quality of the service, but the photo, the experience, a business.” By the way, from 22 euros the night of this same Saturday in a cell with twelve beds with original bars. The infinite vein What does this desire to go to where death, torment, misfortune can be breathed? «Psychoanalysts do not judge, because in reality all the means of satisfaction, as long as they do not threaten the other, that one enjoys imagining the crimes of Jack the Ripper, is neither more nor less legitimate than another that enjoys seeing Goya’s paintings. There the limit is ethical. I would not do much moral about these things”, ditch José R. Ubieto. Neither are tour operators. The holiday industry of horror is endless. Elsa Soro refers to the kit to measure radioactivity in one’s own flesh that was included in a tourist package to see the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a way of experiencing the risk with which they also flirt, for example, on excursions that go into the favelas from Rio de Janeiro. The teacher links this desire to “get to feel the chill” with the plague of deadly selfies, on the edge of the giant wave, the cliff, or the Siberian lake nicknamed ‘the Maldives of Novosibirsk’, in which a dark tourist plays at enjoy yourself in turquoise waters with a paradisiacal appearance whose appearance is, paradoxically, the product of radioactivity. Who gives more.


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