There comes a time when you need to hang up your leather jacket and Converse lest you become that middle-aged youth-parasite crashing college freshman house parties. And while some publications have lamented the death of VICE’s brand of counterculture cool in light of their courting with droopy-faced billionaire and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it’s all too easily forgotten that there is a constant transaction between counterculture and mainstream culture. If the purpose of counterculture is to influence purposeful change in the dominant culture by gathering enough support that it can drown the mainstream out with a collective ‘fuck you,’ then we should also understand that believing that alternative ideas should be hoarded by a select trendy few is naive, elitist and dismissive of the true mission of counterculture– essential social change.
Last month, VICE’s Toronto office held a Hologram party at The Great Hall, coinciding with the second year since its $100 million partnership with Rogers Communications. The party was part nod to Canadian roots and big things to come, but as a New Media journalist drunkenly dabbing to the hellacious synthesizers of Pusha T and the gaping bass of Sean Leon, the realization that formed inside my puddle brain was simple– you don’t need to choose between coverage of musicians drinking their own piss and harrowingly deep coverage of the Islamic State. The binary between style and substance is a false one.
Economic growth is not necessarily synonymous with bureaucratization or standardization as the Independent snobbishly and subtly implied. The beauty of expansion is that it vaults the cultural impact of the youth perspective while drowning out the once thriving but now tiring networks that pander to old-bald guys with an overwhelming preoccupation with maintaining social stratification. VICE’s most recent vertical, Broadly, goes further in democratizing the perspective of cultural influencers by giving a much needed outlet for feminism.
So when I hear old media mainstream publications attempting to crucify VICE for its ventures that allow it to increase the breadth of its social impact, it sounds a bit to me like the kid who got his nose broken in the schoolyard but still continues to talk shit on Facebook. Their secret to success is simple. VICE valued a creative collaboration model when others subscribed to rigid hierarchy. VICE chose disruption over resistance.
Beyond the influence that they have on the youth culture of the maple-syrup heartland, VICE Toronto’s Hologram Party exposed the obvious bottom line– age is a state of mind and two decades of VICE hasn’t watered down their message.