Influencers Are Flocking To Chernobyl To Test Our Faith In People All Over Again

By Brad Nash
13 June 2019
Chernobyl, TV Series, HBO
Even the writer of the HBO show has been forced to step in

If there's one thing that sums up today's culture of online clout, it's the increasing trend of people shamelessly cashing on straight-up disaster porn in the pursuit of looking somewhat cultured.

This manifests itself in a number of ways, and most of them are largely harmless. Take the wave of shallow Notre Dame selfies that emerged on Instagram after the Cathedral burnt down earlier this year as an example. Some, however, aren't so. For instance, the Balinese village of Trunyan, which is notorious for the locals' practice of leaving dead bodies out in the open to decompose, recently had to ask tourists to stop coming to the village and disrupting the sanctity of their loved ones' resting places by taking photos with them.

What we know, basically, is that a certain kind of person will basically go to any depths in the pursuit of a unique Instagram post - one that they'll probably forget taking a short time after. And now, spurred on by the unrivaled success of the show based around it, the town-turned-nuclear waste town of Chernobyl has now become the latest haunt of tourists boasting all the emotional tact of a thimble.

"We have seen a 35 percent rise in bookings," Victor Korol, director of the tour company SoloEast, that runs tours around the exclusion zone that still surrounds the plant, told CNN. "Most of the people say they decided to book after seeing this show. It's almost as though they watch it and then jump on a plane over."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to visit the site where a great disaster took place. It's a fantastic experience to immerse yourself somewhere like Hiroshima or Tiannamen Square, for instance, and doing so provides an unrivaled opportunity to reflect on the mistakes that humans make on both an individual and a group level. Unfortunately, though, many of the tourists now being drawn to the city by the runaway popularity of Chernobyl couldn't have this intention further than their mind. "Oh come on, how bad can it be?" you may ask. Pretty darn bad.

A reminder: this is the site of quite literally the greatest nuclear disaster in human history. 24 people died in its immediate aftermath, and the lingering effects of the event have rendered over 4,000 people seriously ill, according to the WHO. Even the show's writer, Craig Mazin, has asked people to show a little more tact with the kind of content they're creating around there.

“It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion,” Mazin posted on Twitter. “But yes, I've seen the photos going around.”

If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed."

Words for us all to live by indeed. Chernobyl is available to watch on Foxtel now.

Via GQ Australia