In The Blue Guide, Barthes discusses the deceit of world guides, specifically Hachette World Guides. The imagery portrayed in these guides is embellished, showing only the beautiful parts of places. Things that aren’t stereotypical or picturesque about a place are left out, leaving a false portrayal. The Blue Guide is appealing to tourists, but gives a false representation of their destination.

The picture above is a cover of a city guide to Paris, France. On the cover are only three things- beautiful red roses, the Eiffel tower, and a statue. To someone who has never been to Paris, this cover makes it look like these are the three things that represent the city, when, in fact, Paris has a lot more to offer than this. The cover is a stereotypical representation of Paris, which creator’s use to attract tourists. Those traveling to Paris go to see the beauty and history of the city and the Eiffel Tower, but there is also more to Paris than just this.

Above is a cover from a guide for Haiti and Dominican Republic. All it shows is a beautiful beach with a young boy cracking a coconut. The first question I ponder is was this picture of Haiti or Dominican Republic? The book is supposed to be representing two different countries, but there is a picture of only one. Also, the picture shows a very small portion of whichever country this is from. It is very stereotypical; a native boy cracking a coconut on the beach is probably not a common view for tourists, but it is what they expect.

Next is a cover for a guide of Japan. The words on the cover say “discover Japan” and “experience the best of Japan” instantly showing that the guide is going to be a blind view of only what the tourists want to see. The picture is of a beautiful landscape and stereotypical Japanese architecture. The building shown in the picture looks like something one would expect to see in Japan, but this building stands alone without any others around it. It gives readers the impression that all architecture in Japan looks this elegant. Also, they chose the most beautiful mountains and land in the whole country to represent the entire country. This gives the impression that all of Japan is this picturesque.

Lastly, is The “Rough” Guide to Thailand’s Beaches and Islands. This immediately gives the impression that all Thailand has to offer is beaches and islands. Also, on the cover it says, “includes full coverage of Bangkok” as if that is the only part of Thailand worth viewing. The picture doesn’t even show land, just beautiful water, succulent greenery, and large rocks. This gives the weakest impression of what Thailand is actually like.

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About hsmithrose

Sophomore at University of Maine at Farmington majoring in Music Administration

One response »

  1. Michael K. Johnson says:

    The Haiti guidebook also plays on racial stereotypes and myths of the “primitive,” particularly the primitive Islander, who leaves a more pure existence closer to nature, far from civilization. The signifiers of this are the beach itself (empty except for the child), the machete (a primitive weapon rather than a kitchen utensil), the coconut (exotic, but also a fruit of nature, available for the picking), and the boy himself, dressed only in a pair of shorts. Whatever this child’s actual existence is like is not pictured. He’s been plucked out of that life, and whatever meaning there is in his actually everyday life, is emptied out by the appropriation of his image, as he is transformed into a sign of “child of nature,” of simple primitive contentment.

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