Monday, November 8, 2010

Alcatraz Reflections: When is a Rock just a Rock?

I actually liked the audio tour, much to my surprise. I was half expecting a propogandish PG-rated happy-place-for-tourists sort of thing, perhaps reminiscent of the photojournal we first read. But they didn’t leave the nitty gritty out (they even discribed the sound of a knife getting stabbed into someone (and then played that sound)), and they a decent amount of interview time and some interesting details that none of the books covered, like the actual quality of the food.

In general, I have a healthy distrust for the whole touristy business, so I’ll share one thing I thought was funny. Upon disembarking, the tour guides reminded us we weren’t allowed to take home rocks from The Rock – they’re pieces of the historic landmark, and not for you to take home as souvenirs to put with all your other rocks. You could, of course, buy them in the gift shop, and for only $8! They even came with their own fancy little plastic enclosures and child safety warnings: “This is not a toy. Not for children under the age of 5. Do not remove from enclosure.” Yes, that’s right parents, be careful not to let your kids ever get their hands on rocks. Or play with them. Also, this is actually not a rock – it’s a souvenir. I wonder if people really buy them.


1 comment:

  1. It's actually very funny to see how Alcatraz is so commercialized. I was amazed to see so many Alcatraz collectibles selling in the souvenir shop - Cell key replica, prisoner's utensils replica, name tag replica, peacoat replica and many more. I felt like history was reproduced and Alcatraz was being sold. Maybe the person who came up with the idea of selling replicas thought that people would like to play the roles of prisoners or guards by purchasing these replicas. But it is just ironic that back in the days when Alcatraz was still in operation, which normal civilian would even want to step onto Alcatraz, unless he really needs the pay?