When HBO’s Chernobyl became the success that it did, what many would have hoped for would be the renewed conversation around nuclear armament. Probably even the erstwhile USSR’s propaganda around the disaster and its relevance in the post-truth era. What many of us wouldn’t have thought would be the the surge in Instagram posts from Chernobyl’s ‘Exclusion Zone’.
Meanwhile in Chernobyl: Instagram influencers flocking to the site of the disaster. pic.twitter.com/LnRukoLirQ
— Bruno Zupan (@komacore) June 9, 2019
Welcome to 2019, where ‘Chernobyl’ is no longer just the world’s worst nuclear disaster that affected lives of thousands and made an entire town uninhabitable. It’s also a keyword. And you can place your faith upon ‘Instagram influencers’ to shower you with content from the disaster site, thanks to the show’s popularity and its audience’s renewed interest in it.
An influencer by the name of @juliabaessler had posted pictures from within Nuclear Reactor number 4, where the explosion took place. After more than a few comments from her 320,000 followers pointed out how it was disrespectful to the memory of those who lost their lives and those who had to be evacuated, she took her pictures down.
si buscáis las fotos por ubicación Chernobyl en Instagram os podéis encontrar este tipo de cosas pic.twitter.com/uxGF0jiOyp
— lettipop (@lettipop) June 6, 2019
Like @juliabaessler, many Instagram influencers have started putting up pictures from Chernobyl and turned it into an ‘influencer spot’. In the pictures, these Instagrammers can be seen posing by sitting on abandoned swings and chairs. Some are even doing high kicks in front of ferris wheels, and a user by the name of @nz.nik even posed in front of a desolate building in lingerie.
There are obvious safety concerns for those ‘posing’, and whether they could be affected by the radiation in the area. A report in Complex indicates that the exposure is ‘tolerable’, by quoting a tour guide as the following; “During the entire visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, you get around two microsieverts, which is equal to the amount of radiation you’d get staying at home for 24 hours.” It’s impossible to gauge the veracity of this claim, given the obvious conflict of interest.
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.
If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed.
— Craig Mazin (@clmazin) June 11, 2019
Even otherwise, for Instagram influencers to go around mining ‘content’ out of a nuclear disaster is shameful, even for this day and age. Comments on the posts range from “I can’t even comprehend what went through your brain to think this is okay” to “Holy shit this is so fucking disrespectful”.
Creator of HBO’s Chernobyl, Craig Mazin had to jump in and remind everyone of the tragedy that took place and the need to be respectful of their suffering and the ones who sacrificed themselves. It’s the least we can do.