So Vice magazine has been launched in Colombia and Volume 1 can be found for free in various watering holes, locations deemed sufficiently hip or appropriate and restaurants about the capital. And of course, semantics aside, the idea is to offend and offer a balls out no holds barred alternative to our current journalistic offerings which stretch little further than providing us with perfectly presented, surgically improved glossy paisas, images of high society supping cocktails in a chic or avant-garde gallery and then stick it to the establishment.
Apparently this is a magazine directed at the hipster market, but, how can that be? Five per cent of the Vice media organization was sold to Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox in 2013 for $70 million to permit for expansion and now its reach is almost limitless. Hardly, you could argue, the ideal brief for the ironic sensibilities of those much whiskered penny farthing cycling green tea drinking droves found everywhere now.
I have to take off my hat to Vice for launching here in Colombia. This should be an interesting experiment and anyone who directly attacks Carlos Vives’ new album Corazon Profundo in their review of the disc is hitting the correct notes in my book:
“Lo que el cincuentón nos trajo a la mesa es el mismo huevo revuelto de siempre: tropipop para bailar en Andres Carne de Res.”
And Gregorio Matamoros, the author of the review is not wrong, so I ask, when can we read a fresh appraisal of any of Juanes’ work from the scribes at Vice?
I will not call Vice magazine an example of “gonzo journalism” because for me this is really an accolade that is reserved in its entirety for the late great Hunter S Thompson. Now there’s a journalist who lived it and wrote it as he saw fit and deserves high praise. The Rum Diary and Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist shows the breadth and acumen of his writing. We all aspire to this greatness and pale in comparison.
Now, back to Vice, because that’s why we’re here after all. This launch, with hackneyed articles about sadomasochistic dungeons in estrato 2 Bogota, a marijuana expert in Cauca and the troubles of the barrio of Cazuca, is a premeditated strategy to give the Attorney General Alejandro Ordonez, and his troupe of ridiculous Morris dancing conservatives, incontrollable diarrhoea. That’s fine by me. If in Volume 2 they run shots of la Tutina posing suggestively with tropical fruits then, it will be an interesting evolution.
There’s nothing new in Vice, it has all be done before but perhaps not in such a manner of self-laudatory sycophantism. Various mainstream magazines have written scathing reviews about unexceptional pop artists, we have had the ubiquitous interspecies sex piece in a Sunday supplement in the UK about donkey love on the Colombian coast, reports about adolescent sicarios in Medellin and the list goes on. To really shock us the envelope needs to be pushed further. How well this is done or if it can actually be achieved remains a challenge for the editorial staff on the magazine.
Like Vice or loathe it, just peruse the proud fashion in which letters to the editor – both abusive and extolling – are displayed as if they were works of art, there is an importance to the magazine and its role in contemporary journalism.
While I believe it to be far easier to be crass and insulting and present us with supposedly provocative content, Vice’s attempt to mainline us with hilarious nihilism falls sadly short of the target of being incensing and witty. What the magazine does achieve is to provide for a timely debate on the freedom of the press and how Colombia’s media empires should be encircled and challenged. And I’m entirely in favour of any magazine in this day and age that is promoting long form articles and allowing journalists to deliver in depth reports.
I may read Vice again, that is if Ordonez doesn’t have it shut down as an epistle on the letter’s page, displaying possible editorial paranoia and perhaps designed to thrill adolescent punks – educated at the country’s finest private schools – from the wonderfully named Tati Uribe Uribe, Secretaria e Infiltrada has suggested.
Maybe I’ll try and get one of the editors on Colombia Calling in the future and see where the interview goes…