Vice – the magazine, proprietary websites, YouTube channel, ad agency, record label and now TV show.
If you dismiss HBO’s Vice for being ‘hipster journalism’, then you’re probably an idiot. Vice is a raw, in-your-face news magazine that gets into the middle of the action from around the globe without having its correspondents play hero while doing it.
Over the last few years, the company has expanded into a kind of international journalism-meets-adventure tourism that was first laid out in a web series called “Vice Guide to Travel” and now, in half-hour news form, will bring together two stories exploring, as host and Vice co-founded Shane Smith puts it, the “absurdities of the human condition.”
For starters, they’re not primped TV personalities in suits, but sporty and youthful individuals with jazzy nicknames and an approachable demeanour that is not indicative of the ostensible fearlessness they show on camera during precarious situations, such as when risking kidnapping upon visiting a high-profile Taliban leader at his home in Pakistan and questioning his defence for using children to commit suicide bombings.
Vice has created a formula that creates an engaging, serious tone that makes it almost impossible for you not to be shaken by an interview with a North Korean girl whose first encounter with an American was in a gritty safehouse, and whose evident malnutrition was the least of her worries because if authorities discovered that she had defected, her family would pay the price.
In that way, it shouldn’t matter that Vice’s execution isn’t to everyone’s taste. If people are being informed about the world around them, is that ever a bad thing? Even if that informant is wearing an ironic t-shirt. Vice is fearless, and going to places other news outlets won’t.