November 4, 2003
McInnes' Content?

vicebrill.gifWhen exactly did VICE become the new Brill's Content?

Younger readers of low culture might not remember Content, the sprightly, engaging, wildly popular magazine of media criticism from the friendliest suspenders aficionado since Mork came from Ork.
Okay, who am I kidding? Content was full of boring, desiccated articles, spoke in a priggish, scolding tone to a very narrow audience of media professionals and obsessive Romenesko re-loaders, and Steven Brill, by all accounts, is a lot scarier than Robin Williams on one of his free-associative benders. That said, two years after the magazine's demise, its narrow focus on critiquing the media seems to have flowered in the unlikeliest place: everybody's favorite Canadian anarcho-capitalist, racist humor and fashion magazine, VICE.

The VICE/Content overlap first occurred to me when Gavin McInnes wrote to Gawker to explain how The New York Times did him wrong in a Style section profile. His typically all-over-the-place prose was littered with the sort of righteous resentment found in many a Content piece:
I made totally bullshit claims... [that] could have been easily disproven, but everyone from The New York Post to Newsweek ran with them. Shocking really.... [B]aby boomer media like The Times is a laughingstock and we should do whatever we can to ridicule it. They never leave their desks and are so determined to sensationalize that fact checking becomes irrelevant. Ask Jayson Blair how easy it is to manipulate the mainstream press.

Reading the new issue ("The Mistakes Issue"is there any other kind?), I found several instances of meta-media critiques filling the spaces usually occupied by peans to butt-sex and video games. We get a response to a letter on the letters page that reads:
No mainstream journalist that has ever interviewed us has ever heard of VICE before. These people never leave their desks. That's why they're such easy prey. You should try it too. Jayson Blair is still the master however and we are yet to meet his level of expertise.
(Where have I heard that before? Oh, right.)

Then there's an extremely long (almost Brillsian length) article on "Scary" Perry Caravello that becomes a drawn-out examination of journalist-subject collusion and the anxiety of being "scooped" by Page Six. Then there's a fashion spread called Dear Anna Wintour: You Are Wrong that features plus-sized models.

Not really the sort of thing you'd expect from a magazine mostly read by 16 year-old skateboarders. Let's hope VICE doesn't go the way of Brill's Content, mostly because I can't stand the thought of Gavin writing a highly acclaimed book about 9/11 and going into the airport security business.

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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