Last night, I overheard my boyfriend and a friend bitching about how physical copies of VICE Magazine have become increasingly hard to find. Whereas pretty much every other cultural niche magazine is on deathwatch, record and skate shops here in New York can’t keep VICE in stock. I thought, “Well, yeah.”
VBS.TV has been around for almost five months, and already the video portal has completely revitalized the aging VICE empire. It almost amazes me that VICE even bothers to continue to put out a print edition, when it’s already successfully transferred everything about its brand that anyone ever cared about to its online video site. If aliens were to take over the planet tomorrow and outlaw the printed press, VICE would just shrug their shoulders and maybe buy another crate of Xactis. Is there any other magazine born in the 20th century that could say that?
But it’s not like creative director Spike Jonze is really doing anything revolutionary in terms of editorial — all the best stuff on VBS.tv was born in the magazine. Globe-trotting gonzo vlogs like Heavy Metal in Baghdad and Toxic Alberta are just extensions of the stuff VICE writers used to shoot while on assignment with the magazine, the kinds of segments which ended up on the VICE Guide to Travel DVDs. Dos and Don’ts and Friends is also borne from a magazine feature — arguably, VICE’s most popular — but its reincarnation as a weekly video feature is emblematic of VBS’ overall ability to revitalize the VICE brand.
The original Dos and Don’ts concept was simple — a page or two of pics of party and concertgoers in “fashionable” outfits, accompanied by a snarky caption. The VBS version is basically the same, except VICE’s Gavin sits down with a minor celebrity with VICE cred (David Cross, Chloe Sevigny, Johnny Knoxville, etc), to dish out snark based on a handful of photos. Where as the punchline of the magazine version was basically, “Hipsters are dumb,” the video version uses the dumb hipsters as fodder for (often very dirty) conversations about fashion, sex, celebrity… and how hipsters are dumb. It’s a great example of how video can turn a concept from almost-nothing into almost-something.
The Dos and Donts videos are pretty addictive, mostly because there’s something about being bitchy towards total strangers that gets the guests to riff on subjects way outside the parameters of the usual interview. Celebrity photographer Terry Richardson (he shot the already-infamous Amy Winehouse SPIN cover, and if you’ve picked up a copy of GQ within the past two years, you’ve probably seen his work) spends much of his week as VBS’ guest declaring his love for unwaxed bikini lines.
Sevigny not only casually tells Gavin her exact weight (an unheard-of admission for a celebrity not appearing in a before-and-after spread on the cover of PEOPLE magazine), but she blames her “belly pooch” for both her inability to be a model and her preference for high-waisted pants. Other recent guests have included Human Giant‘s Aziz Ansari and Sarah Silverman.
One complaint: VBS annoyingly breaks up about five minutes of footage into anywhere from three to ten microsegments; I understand the need to rack up page views, but forcing the viewer to clip back to the menu page after thirty seconds of semi-coherent babble from Chloe Sevigny about her publicist is absurd.