Chernobyl is an incredible HBO series, so much so that some viewers have already decided it outranks the likes of Breaking Bad and The Wire. It was also a very real place, and the very real site of a disaster so widespread and destructive that researchers can’t even agree on the related death toll count (U.N. agencies have the number somewhere at 4,000, though other studies have suggested its much higher.) And so, while fans of the show might think it appropriate to pose for selfies at the nuclear reactor site, they are quite wrong.
The Chernobyl nuclear reactor site in Ukraine has seen an uptick in visitors since the series aired, which is good for tourism, but bad for good behavior. And on Tuesday, Chernobyl creator (and former Ted Cruz roommate!) Craig Mazin asked those visiting the Chernobyl nuclear reactor site in Ukraine to refrain from taking selfies.
“It’s wonderful that
#ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. But yes, I’ve seen the photos going around,” he tweeted. “If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed.”
Indeed, if you search the “Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant” geotag on Instagram, you get a slew of selfies, some smiling, some contemplative, and some weirdly sultry. This is starting to seem standard—people have been caught taking similar shots at other sites of historical tragedies, like Auschwitz, Pearl Harbor, and Robben Island in Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison.
The ethics are iffy on “dark tourism,” i.e., tourism to sites with a history of death and suffering, and though there’s some controversy over whether or not people should visit these places to begin with, it’s best to refrain from posing for smiling and/or sexy photos.