Embrace Vice

It’s no secret that I think the last few years has been a golden age for TV, completely surpassing and supplanting the movies.  It still continues with shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones (the successor to The Sopranos), Dexter, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Archer, Justified, Louie, Mad Men, Spartacus, Walking Dead, and True Blood.

Therefore, as a major fan of HBO (Sopranos, Oz, Deadwood, The Wire) and an occasional reader of Vice magazine, I was truly excited to hear that HBO has started a Vice reality news show – a mix of gonzo journalism and danger tourism.  For those of you who don’t know – Vice is a mag that revels in articles and guides such as Stalking for Beginners, Pickpocket Pointers, My Babysitter Was a Gay Porn Star, Fuck The Police (No I Mean I really Fuck Them), Sammy Devil Jr. The Candy Man Was a Satanist, Stompers Reunion: Look Back in Anger – A Guide to Hooliganism, The Vice Guide to Shagging Muslims and Bukkake On My Face: Welcome to the Ancient Tradition of the Japanese Facial.

Over the last few years, the Vice 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 a new HBO show 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.” The first episode travels to Maguindanao in the Philippines to look at election violence, then to Kabul to examine an epidemic of child suicide bombers. The second follows North Korean defectors as they’re smuggled to Thailand where they’ll be able to apply for refugee status, then journeys to the Line of Control between India and Pakistan in Kashmir.  The third episode screened last night in the states.

The season is now going to run to ten episodes and is apparently devoting its entire June 14 season finale to the show’s recent week-long trip to North Korea. VICE founder and series host Shane Smith had previously reported from within North Korea (see Vice Guide to Travel – http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL10943F1A08C72A17), but was barred from returning to the country because of his critical documentaries on the regime. Determined to return and chronicle the reclusive country under its new leader, Kim Jong-un, Smith sent a team of correspondents and a production crew, including VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, and three players from the Harlem Globetrotters on a cultural exchange in late February. Dennis Rodman in North Korea !  The potential for cultural exchange is enormous, particularly if he’s dressed up as a ladyboy.

Worth checking out.

Posted by: Porfirio Crane

2 thoughts on “Embrace Vice

  1. So that’s why Dennis Rodman was recently in North Korea? There was a book written in the late 1980s (the name of which sadly eludes me) which took a humurous look at travelling in what were then dangerous and dirty countries which was not dissimilar to the Vice articles you mention.

    Have to look this series up. Sounds good!

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