I hate, I loathe postcard depictions of places. It’s just so lazy, why go through the motions of visiting a place? What pleasure is derived from putting your hands up to push against the Tower of Pisa and even worse documenting it? Surely these people aren’t ignorant to their surroundings, there are numerous pictures online of an entire grass-full of tourists expressing their imagined creativity. Now this is far from a cry to return to some imagined real city below the postcard, no, it’s merely an expression of frustration at the ability of these people to travel the world (in itself an impressive feat) only to do something as cliche as to copy the motions of millions of others.
There are of course certain actions that in copying you pay tribute the original, one version that comes easily to mind (but by no means the first) can be seen in Medieval England where priests would reenact biblical events in the appropriate locations, a local hill for instance would serve for the Sermon on the Mount. This recreation and substitution was essential for those who were unable to go on their own pilgrimage. Yet these tourists are not vindicating the memory of a martyr, they are not tracing the path of a giant to express their humility. They are acting out, like cargo cults, the actions of those who came before them. Their actions are hollow, allowing their friends to nod and smile, saying ‘we did that too’ and nothing more.