Monday, August 29, 2011
A few weeks back, when my husband and I were on vacation in London, we came across an interesting tour. There were lots of tours we saw advertised but this actually came highly recommended by friends. It was the Jack the Ripper Tour (there are actually several of them by different companies). It is a nighttime tour that goes through the streets and alleys of the Whitechapel area to sites of the famous murders. We ultimately didn't end up taking the tour. I thought I could go without experiencing London through the eyes of a serial killer. I've never felt the need to stand at the site of a famous murder. But many do enjoy this. This led me to do a little but of research on the topic.
Did you know that for $225-250 you can stay in infamous accused murderer Lizzie Borden's actual bedroom? You can take a tour of the house (now bed and breakfast) and museum. In Chicago, you can take the Devil in the White City Tour, which looks at serial killer Henry H. Holmes. In LA you can take a Helter Skelter bus tour to see the sites of the Manson murders. This Obit Magazine article talks about a Boston tour that plays up the sites of South Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger.
So where does historic interest turn into some morbid type of voyeurism? People visit sites like Auschwitz all the time. I've never really thought twice about this, as it seems like something that needs to be seen. (To me, I guess. Others may think differently.) So what makes this ok and the Helter Skelter Tour seem so wrong? Is it time passing? (How much time does need to pass before it is socially acceptable to start a bus tour?) The historic value of the site? A lesson you might take away?
I know that there are people who are just serial killer and famous murder buffs. Just like my husband loves WWII history and my sister is obsessed with the British monarchy, there are those that just find this sort of thing fascinating. It's a personal taste thing, I suppose. Maybe I just don't get why someone would want to be reminded of such horrible things. Isn't life difficult enough as it is?