off the record
Great Ideas in History
When Shane Smith, one of the founders of Vice Media, pitched a television show to MTV in 2010, it seemed unimaginable that the company that came out of Vice magazine could establish itself as a respected informational source about, well, anything (other than how to decorate your heroin stash). And yet the network bit, and The Vice Guide to Everything ran for eight episodes, balancing ridiculous segments against heavier fare.
With its latest television program, VICE, which premieres next Friday, the media company is once again trying its hand at American television. Not just television. HBO. And this time, it’s not trading on its nihilistic reputation. Instead, it’s asking audiences to trust in its international-relations acumen. It wants to be taken seriously. Or at least as seriously as it takes itself.
It’s all fun and games until the Globetrotters have to build a human pyramid to escape a North Korean prison. Today, VICE media sent “correspondent Ryan Duffy, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, and select members of the Harlem Globetrotters” along with a film crew to Pyongyang, North Korea for the first ever attempt at “Basketball Diplomats.” This is all part of the new TV show VICE on HBO, which will be an extension of the VBS.tv series on Vice.com.
According to a U.S. state department official, VICE has not contacted them about their trip, nor does it vet private travel to the country, which two weeks ago scared the world by performing underground nuclear testing.
What could go wrong?
We shouldn’t be surprised that Vice Media’s stunning transformation over the years– from a dirty Canadian hipster zine founded by anarchists and ex-junkies, to a slick site (thanks, Viacom!) focused on original video content–has lead to a pot of gold.
Since its inception, Vice has been pitching shows to networks, none of which panned out into anything, as the Vice brand wasn’t exactly TV friendly (no, not even to the audiences of Jackass). But 2.0 Vice (and Vice.TV), with its lack of Gavin McInnes and new-found social consciousness, has landed founder Shane Smith his first network show. Forget Vice.TV…this is Vice TV!