to think it was disrespectful to take a photo here?

(69 Posts)
LaceAndRoses Sun 03-Mar-13 22:52:10

Just had a lovely holiday in New York, went about 6 years ago so we decided to do all the tourist things again.

Statute of Liberty, Empire State etc. Common places where you'd expect to see people taking group photos.

We were lucky enough to go to Ground Zero too. My DH has a friend whos pregnant wife died on 9/11, he wanted to be there but found it hard at the same time and wanted to be by himself to find her name and pay respect to her.

I read some of the names and was finding it hard myself (even though I was never directly affected) so I wanted to have a couple of minutes silence and sat down and was just watching people.

I was amazed at the amount of group photos being taken. The type of photos that people would take and show their friends and say "and this is us at Ground Zero" like it was a major tourist attraction such as the Statue of Liberty.

My husband found me and asked could we leave because he was angry because someone had asked him to move whilst he was reading his friends name so they could take a group photo.

Maybe I'm being unreasonable ... I'm not sure.

Frogman Tue 05-Mar-13 12:55:33

There is a difference between being in a photo and having a neutral look on your face compared to smiling and grinning and being disrespectful though. I think that is that issue.

Xiaoxiong Tue 05-Mar-13 11:46:09

I'm surprised to hear some people find the term "ground zero" offensive. My uncle and aunt live in Battery Park City and call it ground zero, as do my cousins on UWS, aunt and uncle in DUMBO, etc. (We are many generations of New Yorkers). They complain about the hordes of people and the road closures and barge tourists out of the way in true NY fashion grin Because they walk past it every day it's not something they really think about anymore despite having lived through it and knowing people who died.

Poppet48 Tue 05-Mar-13 11:28:27

YABU, It is an absolutely beautiful memorial to 911 and it has turned into a tourist attraction.

I'm sure if your DH said 'Hold on a moment, I lost a friend in 911 and I am just paying my respects' they would have been very understanding and moved somewhere else.

EduCated Tue 05-Mar-13 00:11:22

SolidGoldBrass Did you really need to mock people with a lisp in an already pretty insensitive post?

ICBINEG Mon 04-Mar-13 23:47:26

I had this in Nagasaki (at what I think it is correct to refer to as ground zero). Me and DH were just lost in the horror of it and a japanese woman came over and started cheerily asking if we were enjoying our visit to her country and did we like sushi etc etc. It was very difficult.

I guess if you walk past it everyday on the way to work you are desensitised.

MagratOfStolat Mon 04-Mar-13 22:37:03

There's just something about the idea of standing around looking happy when, all around you, death and tragedy are rife. It's something that I can't even put in to words, if you see what I mean. It just seems..........wrong somehow.

I've been to Auschwitz with a German relative of mine, and she was just as disgusted with everyone plastering on big false grins when they're standing on top of where people were shot. Pulling stupid jibs where the ovens were kept. One prize idiot decided to pull the "Heil Hitler" salute and I'm pretty sure was asked to leave because of it.

I don't see why people should make things like this into a happy, smiley place. They are there to commemorate the past, to warn future generations of the atrocities of man and to serve as a grim reminder that the most awful of tragedies can occur under our noses in the blink of a second.

If you feel it's appropriate to be posing cheesily for the camera, then that's your business, but to me it's just.... wrong somehow...

idiot55 Mon 04-Mar-13 21:27:41

I live in a town where a major disaster happened and I hate seeing people on what we call "a morbid tour" Bus tours even drive around the town.

Obviously family and friends visiting the site and memorial are differnt and I have the greatest respect for them visiting.

here people wnat to move on, and not hav ethe label of that town, yes it will always be respected but ..

SocialClimber Mon 04-Mar-13 21:05:25

I went to NY a few years ago, before there was any memorial. It was literally just a massive whole in the ground. The atmosphere was awful, it was like the day was still lingering.

There were people were taking photos there in a "look how cool this is" fashion. I had my camera around my neck throughout the day but took it off and put it away.

plantsitter Mon 04-Mar-13 20:52:16

I've worked with American people for years - in this country, which makes the difference between our culture and theirs look quite sharp.

Americans like taking group photos. And they smile in photos, whatever the photo is of. I think they get early training in how to look nice in photos. You could identify the British and Americans in our staff photos not just by our teeth but by whether or not we knew how to pose for a photograph.

I'm not being flippant and I really don't mean to offend anyone by what is of course a massive generalisation, but I'm just trying to say that I can see why you thought it was disrespectful but it will not have been meant like that. It's a cultural difference about the appropriateness photographing things and people.

Fingers crossed you're not American though...

chocolatesolveseverything Mon 04-Mar-13 20:50:54

Taking photos is not inherently disrespectful. On visits to the WTC site I couldn't bring myself to do it (was too busy crying for one thing), but the first time I visited Auschwitz I took one photo - just to remember the image that stuck in my head the most at the time.

But I cringe when I see people taking cheesy group shots at these places. I've seen it at famous war memorials as well and feel the same. I just can't see how posing with a big grin in front of a tragic site is an act of rememberence. I've tried, but just can't see it.

EverybodysSootyEyed Mon 04-Mar-13 20:46:13

I was there in 2003. They hadn't built anything at that point and it had fences around it. I didn't want to go and peer through the fence as other were doing and we walked past on our way to somewhere else. I was surprised at the number of people taking photos as if they were in front of the Eiffel tower or big Ben.

But then it surprises me when people have their photos taken sitting on someone famous gravestone.

With all these things it depends on the freshness. People go to Pompeii and gawp at the casts of dying people, the kids love seeing mummies at the museum. At what point does a dead body/place with a tragic history become an artefact/attraction?

EverybodysSootyEyed Mon 04-Mar-13 20:44:40

I was there in 2003. They hadn't built anything at that point and it had fences around it. I didn't want to go and peer through the fence as other were doing and we walked past on our way to somewhere else. I was surprised at the number of people taking photos as if they were in front of the Eiffel tower or big Ben.

But then it surprises me when people have their photos taken sitting on someone famous gravestone.

With all these things it depends on the freshness. People go to Pompeii and gawp at the casts of dying people, the kids love seeing mummies at the zoo. At why point does a dead body/place with a tragic history become an artefact/attraction?

MechanicalTheatre Mon 04-Mar-13 20:33:40

SGB, I really don't think the whiny and po-faced rule the world, but rather the brash and the crude.

And it has always been so.

<goes off to lisp in a corner and respect other people>

MorganMummy Mon 04-Mar-13 20:29:17

I'm not sure anyone wanted a cookie (though thank you so much for the offer, and the hilarious connection of speech impediment with sensitivity). I thought it was people really illustrating how cultural and personal differences meant there are many interpretations of what is appropriate and how they wish to remember something. And if you want to pull faces in a gas-chamber, I suppose you have the right to do it, but I have the right to think that's a rather odd behaviour.

Actually, I think the OP was right to complain about her H being asked to move along. That's rude. But otherwise - you (collective, hypothetical you') don't own a public place. You are not entitled to 'respect' from other members of the public visiting such a place to the extent that the most whiny and po-faced and self-important get to set the rules of behaviour and the most oversensitive get to trump everyone else's right to be there, take pictures, pull faces, have conversations.

And all this 'Well I don't take photographs because I'm so incredibly thenthitive that I don't need to' - what do you want, a cookie?

ClaireDeTamble Mon 04-Mar-13 11:29:55

We went to Poland a few years ago with DH's family and visited Auschwitz.

DH's uncle spent the whole time taking photos and poncing around with his video camera. This wasn't too bad a Auschwitz 1 which is where the main museum bit is, although it felt a little bit distasteful as we were doing the walk through of the gas chamber and ovens.

However, when we went over to Auschwitz-Birkenau, they took us up into the guard tower above where the rail line went through the gate into the camp. There was a panoramic view of the site and the guide was pointing out where the chambers and ovens used to be - DH's uncle paractically shoved the guide out of the way so he could lean out the window and get a decent shot on his camcorder.

I was very angry. Not only was it incredibly disrespectful to the guide, but I really don't know why he was so keen to film it - the image of that place is indelibly stamped on my mind and I thought it would be much better to buy a book or DVD from the shop if you wanted something to remember the trip by.

I mean seriously, what's he going to do with the video - sit the grandkids down in front of it in a few years time and say "This was the family holiday when we visited a death camp - that's where they exterminated millions of people...."

However, I do think that the World Trade Centre Site is different. Auschwitz has been preserved as it was as a reminder to people about what happened, the WTC site has been turned into an active memorial and taking photos can be about rememberance rather than just ghoulishness.

CheddarGorgeous Mon 04-Mar-13 11:21:14

Sorry, no real opinion but thought I would say that visits to sites of death or destruction is called thano-tourism. There are some interesting studies on what motivates people to go and it's very different for different people.

Tee2072 Mon 04-Mar-13 11:10:26

"...the people murdered at the camps would have wanted what happened to be remembered."

I think that's a really good point. If people don't take pictures, don't keep records beyond the memorial itself, how do we make sure we remember?

Not that I think the WTC site or Auschwitz are going anywhere any time soon, but digital records may just be forever. Stone and brick and wood etc wear away over time.

Myliferocks Mon 04-Mar-13 10:42:15

I took photos when I went to Auschwitz.
I wasn't planning on doing so but when we got there it felt like the right thing to do.
None of my photos had people in and I didn't take photos of the gas chambers or where people had been shot by firing squad.
I took photos of the living quarters, the sign, the train tracks and the international memorial.
I had a feeling of peace as though the people murdered at the camps would have wanted what happened to be remembered.
It's quite hard to explain the feeling I felt whilst standing there.

mmmuffins Mon 04-Mar-13 10:35:08

I think YABU about general photography. It is a site where something of historical importance happened, and it wont be there forever.

I do think it is a bit weird to have a group shot of you and your friends all smiling in front of ground zero though. Doesn't quite have the right sentiment.

I went to New York in 2003. I visited the World Trade Center site whilst I was there. The pictures of the missing were still up and the ribbons were there too on chain link fences. I will never forget it. People were posing for photos and I found it so disrespectful. YANBU.

freddiefrog Mon 04-Mar-13 10:19:27

A pic of the WTC site popped up on my FB feed a couple of weeks ago. It was a friend of a friend's picture and my friend had commented on it. The pic was of friend's friend, at the WTC site, with 2 of her friends, they'd got their arms round each other pulling knees bent, pouty poses.

Friend had commented something along the lines of 'glad you enjoyed NY, but this is seriously disrespectful'. Loads of other people had piled in telling friend to wind her neck in, it was a tourist site like any other

It wasn't the fact it was they'd take a pic of the WTC that upset my friend, it was the silly posing she found disrespectful, thousands of people had died there, it's not the Eiffel Tower

DeWe Mon 04-Mar-13 09:50:58

I took photos at the Battle of Britain memorial. I wasn't being disrespectful.
I was taking photos of my grandad's name for my parents for whom it would be too far to go. I did take a nice photo of my children sitting on the grass looking at the memorial too. My Grandad would have been very proud to see them gazing at his name.

Tee2072 Mon 04-Mar-13 04:07:56

But they are at a tourist attraction.

Right or wrong, that's what it is.

I had no idea the term Ground Zero was incorrect. Interesting.

MechanicalTheatre Mon 04-Mar-13 02:44:46

I don't think it's taking photos exactly, but taking photos of people smiling like they're at a tourist attraction. Or taking photos with people in at all.

It's a bit weird, especially when there's people in the same place who may have lost relatives/friends there and you're just a tourist. But then it is a bit odd to go to those places at all. I went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and it affected me quite badly and I'm not sure how I feel about going to places where terrible stuff has happened as a tourist. Maybe they should just have specifically guided tours.

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