Monday, August 29, 2011

A Morbid Tour

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?

3 Responses to “A Morbid Tour”

Greg Gifford MD said...
August 30, 2011 at 5:44 AM

The last sentence in your article "A Morbid Tour" struck an especially resonant chord.  After years of participating in many patients' dying, first trying to stop it (ER physician) then trying to make it comfortable (Hospice physician), I silently respond to non-participants' "interest/fascination" with death the same way:  Isn't life difficult enough as it is? 

Stugee1 said...
August 30, 2011 at 6:13 AM

Hi Amber,

I believe there is a very significant difference between the curiosity/morbidness/etc. of a tour of a famous serial killer and a tour of Auschwitz or The Holocaust Museum, for instance.
While both deal with tragedies for the individuals affected, The Holocaust deals with a tragedy for mankind and the civilized world.

We would all hope that people would learn from tours of the latter sites, particularly to watch for warning signs of leaders and followers gone intensely astray (note the growing anti-semitism in Europe and Scandinavia again).

These tours are not about morbidity rather the inhumanity that can occur while regular citizens do nothing.
I struggle to find any meaning in the serial murderer tours.

Cool New Gadgets said...
October 3, 2011 at 7:22 AM

What make a tour on one of the famous serial killer bedroom? No way.. Looks interesting though..