China Marks Off Section of Great Wall to Limit Graffiti
At first, some of the headlines surrounding the announcement that China will allow graffiti on the Great Wall sound like a nightmare turned reality. Really, we can write on and deface this incredible icon? This is one of the traps of journalism in today's world, the fact that if you're just skimming headlines, you're bound to get the wrong idea. China's decision has nothing to do with wanting more graffiti on its historical fortification. In reality, it's trying to reel it in.
Every day, tourists walk the Great Wall and, like many places around the world, feed the desire to leave their mark, despite the fact that common sense tells us it's an awful, terrible thing to do to something we're trying to preserve. We're sure China would love to ban it entirely, but with no way to really police it, the country has decided to designate a section of the Wall at Mutianyu outside of Beijing where people can feel free to draw or write on it. This section was specifically chosen because it is mostly a reconstruction of the Wall, so the graffiti wouldn't be ruining the "real thing."
Although we'd love to live in a perfect world where people would think through their actions more thoroughly, we applaud China's initiative to not only quarantine the damage, but to raise awareness of the problem. It is also mulling over the idea of installing an electronic sign board of sorts, one where tourists can electronically sign their names on a touch screen. China has used this in other parts of the country to curb the same issue.
An electronic board is not exactly ideal in maintaining authenticity at an ancient site like the Wall, but it's a better solution than watching tourists destroy the damn thing. It's hard to swallow that we've come to this point in tourism, where personal responsibility and forward thinking have gone out the window. Yet as we saw yesterday in our review of Elizabeth Becker's book on the dark side of tourism today, this is indeed the reality of our situation at the moment.
[Photos: Wiki/Daily Mail]