The creator of HBO’s successful mini-series Chernobyl has asked visitors to “comport yourselves with respect” at the site after a misleading viral tweet exposed Instagram influencers taking raunchy photos.
Since the show aired in May, the Ukrainian tourism industry has seen a 40 per cent rise in tour bookings to Chernobyl, with visitors from all over the world flocking to the site of the worst nuclear disaster in human history and the abandoned town of Pripyat.
But along with the strange success for the region as a result of the biopic, Pripyat has also played host to an equally strange trend – with photographers and Instagrammers who are taking widely criticised ‘glamour shots’ while visiting.
Among them is Instagram user ‘nz.nik’ (who has more than 7,000 followers) who posted several images from Pripyat in what appears to be a hazmat suit with matching mask falling from a near-nude woman’s body.
The public attention on the suspect Chernobyl photography trend reportedly stems from a misleading bait-tweet that went viral for displaying what it said were several “Instagram influencers” who were taking pictures in Pripyat.
Meanwhile in Chernobyl: Instagram influencers flocking to the site of the disaster. pic.twitter.com/LnRukoLirQ
— Bruno Zupan (@komacore) June 9, 2019
Following the bait tweet and photos taken in the region, Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin urged visitors to remain respectful when visiting the site of the tragedy.
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
The Chernobyl Zone guest code asks visitors to “remember human sufferings and victims, and behave accordingly”.
However, the tweet which exposed the phenomenon has been criticised for misconstruing and inaccurately conveying that the Instagram images taken in Pripyat came from influencers, with one image coming from an account that has little over 500 followers at time of publishing.
The Atlantic‘s Taylor Lorenz said on social media that the tweet was “rude and stupid” and that it had cropped out captions discussing the tragedy.
This tweet is rude & stupid. Only 2 of these ppl are even influencers. Others are regular ppl. 1 barely has 200 followers. u cropped out the captions, some explicitly talking abt the tragedy. And selected 1 the image from a whole carousel where a girl included herself in the pic https://t.co/BFCHJKyLAy
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) June 12, 2019
Lorenz later clarified that only one of the people displayed was an actual influencer – swimwear founder Julia Baessler, who has more than 300,000 followers – and that the tweet was baiting people’s assumptions of influencers.
Julia Baessler reportedly removed several raunchy images taken at the abandoned town’s carnival after drawing criticism for them but left her less suspect, fully-clothed images of her visit to Pripyat.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that the new fad seemed to be another “unofficial instalment” of “Selfies in Serious Places”, grouping it with the likes of questionable photos taken at Holocaust memorial sites and New York’s Ground Zero – where the World Trade Center once stood.