In our final installment on Vice magazine today, a letter — and a confession — from co-founder McInnes on the story of Vice, the media, and the very nature of identity as we understand it. (I know one Canadian magazine founder who's been brushing up on his Kierkegaard!) Oh and also? He sent us a picture of himself in a speedo. It's at the end of the letter.
After moving from Montreal (where French vs English is the only conflict) to New York (where everyone is obsessed with race) it was impossible to ignore how intellectually lazy and knee-jerk people are when it comes to any mention of ethnicity.
Whenever VICE co-founder Suroosh would say the word paki, white people would be up in arms criticizing him (huh?). It became irresistible to goad people and corner them into conversations about controversial politics because they were so hysterical and easy to anger. Plus, incendiary political statements garnered endless publicity for us and playing with mainstream media became a fun game.
We convinced journalists we were gay lovers, we told them MTV was starting a new series with us, said we were banned from stores we weren t banned from, I told America I though Jesus was gay on Bill Maher s idiot show Politically Incorrect last week we even convinced a journalist we are 40 year-old drug dealers. After leaving Vice Magazine a couple of years ago and working only part time on boring administration stuff, I made antagonizing the press almost my full time job.
And yes, I wrote an article for The American Conservative about a new trend of conservative hipsters. I did it for a laugh. I did it because I wanted to see what it would be like to flirt with Pat Buchanan (and I agree with some of what the AmCon says, just like I agree with some of what The Nation says). In the AmCon piece I made totally bullshit claims like Terry Richardson was publicly trashing Clinton and Our website was filled with people saying the gay media was making women diet too much. I even invented an art collective called Sofia. Any of these things could have been easily disproven, but everyone from The New York Post to Newsweek ran with them. Shocking really.
The hysteria led to this New York Times Style Section cover where the author lazily chose several inflammatory comments, glued them together and stuck white supremacist at the top. She pasted a phone call about white guilt, to an e-mail wherein I suggested a debate with my Islamic coworker (and roommate) Suroosh, and an antiracist joke from several years ago that becomes reversed when taken out of context (in The NY Press we were all dressed as skinheads except for Suroosh who was wearing a suit. We were all covered with fake blood and bruises to imply a fight had just finished of course without the photo the quote becomes venomous). When the NYT piece came out I realized the monster I created grew up and ran away from home. I guess it s time to switch to a new gag.
It s unfortunate that people in the know like Gawker are taking it all so seriously. I thought we were on the same page: baby 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. None of them have ever heard of VICE when they start the story so every interview is a carte blanche.
I am sure there will still be some skeptics out there that will ignore the AmCon untruths I just clearly spelled out and will still think I m just backpedaling so, in order to prove my point, I will now be saying stuff to the press that is so left-wing, so-Black Power, that it will make your ears burn off. I m even going to gamble that their research will never turn up this confession.
Here I go! Wish me luck!
(gavin AT viceland.com)
PS: You keep citing our dreadful writer s contracts. Those are a starting block. When writers come back and specify that they don t want to give away film rights or even internet rights, that part is stricken from the contract. We let writers mark up their contracts with almost total free reign.
Gavin helpfully provided this visual aid. We do agree that a picture is worth about a hundred million words.