If you’ve run out of series to binge-watch (it’s been a long winter, people!), Netflix’s latest addition, Dark Tourist, follows journalist David Farrier as he explores the world’s most macabre destinations.
Farrier is trotting the globe in search of the most sinister and curious tourist spots historically marked by disaster and danger. His travels take him to morbid corners where ‘normal’ is a different story. If you’re not yet convinced of Farrier’s ‘stranger than fiction’ travel exposé, there’s an episode featuring our very own South Africa.
The eight-part series has taken the New Zealand journalist from the sacred Aokigahara suicide forest to the birthday party of a ‘vampire’, and in the episode titled ‘Africa’, Farrier takes on Alexandra township and the white supremacist community of right-wing survivalists in Orania. South Africa has a dark history in many ways, and Farrier explores discrimination, poverty, race, class and identity in a place where these factors wage war on our lives every day.
The show has potential, but does Farrier need to check his privilege?
There have been critiques regarding Farrier, a privileged white man, capitalising off of the stories of locals and communities for entertainment. There’s a fine line between documentation and fetishising – so the question is, which side does Farrier fall on? There are questions about how ethical it is to immerse yourself in these worlds by objectifying people because of our fascination with the ‘other’, without considering the damage we create once we leave these communities.
As The Atlantic reports, Farrier constantly needs to check his privilege as a foreigner taking it upon himself to make a spectacle of different cultures.
‘On a bicycle tour of the Alexandra township in South Africa, Farrier gets off to a bad start by focusing on the area’s reputation for gun crime, and tells his guide (who lives there) that he’s never been on a “slum tour” before,’ writes Sophie Gilbert. ‘Then, realising his rudeness, he apologises profusely. He spends time getting to know a local named Stacey who’s a star in the extreme sport of spinning, and he expresses admiration for how Alexandra residents have created such a “vibrant and unique community”.’
At times, Farrier misses the opportunity to open important conversations
‘In a white-separatist town in South Africa called Orania, he interviews visitors who praise the community’s “culture”, and how “clean and safe” it is, but he declines to press them further on what they’re actually appreciating,’ Gilbert continues.
The series has its issues, but if you’re into dark thrills and in the mood for a Netflix binge, Dark Tourist is right up your alley.
Watch the trailer for Dark Tourist here:
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