Monday, July 09, 2007

Sickening Tourism

I am totally disgusted by the idea of favela tourism. Having spent some time in Rio recently, Mr. Trend talked to me about tourists (mostly Europeans) who come to Rio and take a day trip to a favela so "they can know what it's really like." Now, while I think people do need to understand world poverty, this is not the way to do it. Hey!--Let's go spend a night at the bed and breakfast in the favela. Maybe we'll hear some gunshots! Wouldn't that be romantic! Even better, maybe we can score some cheap drugs while we're there!!!

I will give Europeans as a whole a bit of credit in that, as a broad generalization, they seem to know more about the places they are traveling in than Americans. But playing tourism to watch the misery of others is wrong, wrong, wrong.

God knows Brazil has it's problems. Class and racial prejudice are two big ones, and they feed into the divide between the favelas and the rest of Rio. But I'm not sure how this is helping in the least. Rather, these tourists are turning poverty into playtime. New forms of colonialism/imperialism are created every day.