In the article “The Tourist’s Gaze: Revisited” John Urry presents and wonderfully articulates the concept of the tourist’s gaze to the reader. Urry meticulously breaks down first what the “gaze” is, and then how our gaze interacts with travel and the environment. I believe that he was correct in being critical of the tourist’s gaze as often times it can be both superficial and dangerous.
Sight is not seen as the noblest of the senses but as the most superficial, as getting in the way of real experiences that involve the other senses.
This quote truly makes me think of the negatives that are associated with many tourists in today’s day and age. There are many people who travel places just for the sake of checking off a list of sights. The most common place I see this is with Instagram where people feel compelled to document things just to seem more popular. People will go across the world and be in an amazing city, eating a beautiful meal, and not truly experience any of it because all that matters is getting the perfect visual instead of experiencing everything about where they are. One of the big lessons I took from this is that people need to explore the places they travel with all of their senses. Smell the flowers, taste the food, hear the sounds of the city or forest, feel the different textures of the area. To use your experience as a tourist in another place as just a way to see and collect images and sights then that is a waste.
Also, in much tourism there is the equivalent of looking at the mad behind bars. The bars can be the camera or the ethnic costumes or the quaint village that gets invaded every summer.
This part of the text made me think about how tourism and “sightseeing” can often be a source of dehumanization. People from other countries are made to be a spectacle for tourists and onlookers where they are expected to conform to stereotypes as a way to survive. While tourism is a benefit to many, the superficial art of it definitely has a dark side that hurts many, often those that are indigenous to different regions. If a tourist can take the extra step to truly experience and understand where they are visiting, I believe that is a step in the right direction.