By Rosa Mas Giralt
Last month, while I was stranded in Washington DC due to the volcanic ash cloud affecting Europe’s air space, I spent an afternoon trying to find the location in Georgetown of the steps that appear in the film “The Exorcist”. In the afternoon sunshine, the steps were being used as an ‘outdoor gym’ by three young boys; the most mundane of scenes for the “darkest” of cinematic stairs. As someone who sometimes enjoys discovering the locations of films and works of literature, I am aware of being part of an increasingly popular interest, one which allows the temporary enactment of geographies of fantasy.
In a forthcoming article for Area, Stijn Reijnders (2010) explores the reasons why people visit places related to the James Bond films and books. His fieldwork with twenty-three regular ‘Bond tourists’ showed that for many of his participants, the pilgrimages allowed the temporary recreation and embodiment of the type of masculinity that Bond represents. Reijnders emphasizes the usefulness of considering media pilgrimages as culturally embedded phenomena, taking into account that the authority of the media is related to power structures such as gender. This type of research highlights the richness of experiences that lie behind the geographies of film locations.