Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vice Versa

by Drew Martin
I am not sure what to make of the proper New Yorker giving press to the naughty Vice magazine in this week’s issue with the 10-page spread The Wayward Press, The Bad-Boy Brand, The Vice guide to the world by Lizzie Widdicombe.

Vice has been one of my favorite magazines for the past few years. It is edgy and alternative; intelligently improper with a zine-like vibe in a slick, square magazine. Vice’s attitude sets it apart from other publications but this is also its biggest fault; it breaks all the rules only through a hipster code and formulaic cool.

The attempts at guerrilla journalism often settle for informative entertainment but its ‘do stupid in a smart way and smart in a stupid way’ leaves the reader with a good gnawing feeling because it is more experiential than news. One of the exclamations of Widdicombe’s article is about Vice's success as an ad magnet YouTube content provider, envied by big media companies.

I had only seen one or two of their videos before yesterday so I watched a few more: Hunting the Radioactive Beasts of Chernobyl, Interview with a Cannibal, Westminster Dog Show on Acid, Death of the American Hobo. These curious subjects act more as tabloid newspaper headlines than as video titles.

For the Westminster Dog Show on Acid video, a young man with poodle hair takes LSD for his first time and then goes to Madison Square Garden to interact with doggers (a term he coins on the spot). It is witty and funny, more about the young man’s experience than the event. The Chernobyl and Hobo videos are lacking but the Cannibal video is overwhelming and hard to forget. A slight, well-dressed Japanese man in the latter part of his life explains how he shot, raped and ate a young Dutch woman when he was a student in Paris. It is graphic but the most haunting thing is how accepting the camera is, without any interjection from the Vice crew.

Click here to watch:
Hunting the Radioactive Beasts of Chernobyl

Interview with a Cannibal
Westminster Dog Show on Acid
Death of the American Hobo