That one time I wrote about the VICELand Channel for a School Paper
In 2016, the VICE channel network launched a sub channel called “Viceland” that took over H2, a channel mocking the History Channel. Quickly after, a huge fanbase has grown towards the new channel because of its innovative presentation of what the channel is about. I encountered the channel in January of this year. Being a relatively new channel, (it’s release date being February 29th, 2016, meaning the entire channel’s only been around for little over a year) not many of my friends knew the channel’s existence. However, I’ve been very fascinated since my discovery.
The VICEland channel is one of the most unique and bold television broadcast channels that I’ve experienced. Everything they do is very extreme and liberal. They only have one scripted show airing, the rest of the shows are considered reality tv. For example, one of the most prominent topics of conversation within their channel is drugs, with an emphasis on marijuana. They have Bong Appetite, in which locally famous chefs are invited to cook their famous meals with multiple different forms of marijuana infused into it and then you watch as the show’s representatives eat the food and comment on it. They also air “Weediquette”, and “Hamilton’s Pharmacopia”, in which the Viceland choose a different drug for each episode, then interview people who do them, and then show and explain how these drugs are made, and what it’s societal impacts are throughout the more prominent parts of the world that abuse these drugs. I think the fact that the channel is so pro-marijuana is significantly shocking enough, but the fact that they’re airing shows about marijuana, and also drugs like psychedelic mushrooms and the African Quaalude, a special drugs only sold in South Africa for its crazy release of euphoric sleepiness, is astonishing, and very ahead of it’s time. Another one of the themes that’s prominent on the Viceland channel is the idea of sharing point of views of things that are taboo. They have a show called “Hate Thy Neighbor”, where they spend a lot of time interviewing and learning about different cultures of people, from Nationalists, Natzi’s to Black Supremests. They air “Pins & Needles” that tells the different cultural, social, and historic stories about excessive tattooing, and needle ink. This is interesting because tattooing, especially at the degree intensity that is displayed in the show, is a topic that is considered taboo in the world still, so the fact that they’ve dedicated a whole show to it seems also shockingly advanced, because I feel there’s not enough of a positive progression towards tattoos in this generation yet to come close to matching with the progression that Pins & Needles allows and praises, even.
For this, along with all their other shows about different food cultures from around the world, different famous music groups that grow from poverty from around the world, and various educational shows that follow regular people who have similar interests about the world that a few different populations of regular television watchers do as well. So they send these people to go film themselves in the middle of action that comes from these new modern, liberal interests that is similarly shared throughout the current and probably next few generations to come. This channel is breaking so many barriers in the entertainment industry, because this is a huge project, since it’s not just a show or two, it’s a full channel that broadcasts on television, very similar but more extreme than MTV, but just as available for watching as PBS. It’s a very big move that came from the VICE company to release all of these powerhouse shows in entertainment, because of how many of society's barriers within social norms are being pushed and challenged with all the different shows on this channel. It makes it even more relatable that there’s no scripted shows, but more just regular people doing and learning about cool things that millennials find interesting or engaging because of it’s novelty in this current climate.
I think one of the most influential cast members on the channel is Jamali Maddix. He is an English comedian who is the host of “Hate Thy Neighbor” in which he travels around the world and interviews the life of extremists in religion and cultural beliefs. I think he’s one of their best cast members because on the show, it shows him getting into some compromising situations for himself, and since he’s the only face of the show, and sometimes the moments are so intimate that it’s only him and a still camera that create the scene, like for example when he did an interview with the Natzi in his car, there was no space for any other camera crew. This concept reminds me of the story of the One Man Camera Crew. In this case study, it tells the story of a new journalist who was sent out to gain footage of a raffle winner being handed her winnings by the famous local boxer that gave his time for dinner with the winner as part of the winnings. When the journalist gets to the location, however, he realizes that he missed the winner’s prize being handed, and the boxer hadn’t gotten there yet. This was an issue because the footage was needed in short time to be aired that night, so he got to the point where he was contemplating different alternatives to the news story vision, than the original because of a lack of footage. In his favor, the boxer arrived, although very late, and he caught most of the footage he needed. For the last piece, the winner being handed her winnings, he went up to them, after some deliberation about whether or not that was morally just in attempts to have a honestly accurate representation of the truth of events, and asked them to pose replaying that scene, and he got all the footage he needed to create the original visual of the news story.
This case study reminds me of Jamali from Viceland, because of one scene, in which he was going into a KKK meeting in which they want to burn a swastika, because he himself is half black. One man from the KKK alliance, when asked why Jamali wasn’t allowed near, responded that it was because they didn’t want him to get hurt, or even die, while being in the meeting. While never saying it, but always under obvious insinuation that it was because of the color of his skin. In that case, when Jamali is asked to get certain footage for a good, complete episode, and is not allowed to film, nor even be able to participate in, some of the moments that he was asked to gain footage on, what is he to do? Luckily for Jamali, one of his crew members was a light enough skin tone to get to participate and report back, but what if it was just him, as it had been in many other scenes? If I was in his situation, I would ask to possibly place my camera somewhere close to their meeting just so I could still have some footage, and if that wasn’t acceptable, I would have asked one of the Socialists that he had befriended in prior scenes in the episode, to possible just take the camera in and tape any part that he wanted. Just as if I was in Daniel’s shoes, in the case study, I would have done just as he did, and asked them to redo the scene of the winner getting her check from the boxer, because at the end of the day, in both those situations, I would have wanted to get as much footage and material as possible, even if that meant by inclusion of help from others to possibly film, or help me capture the vision of a scene that actually happened. I think in these situations, it’s very much about which levels of extremes the situation deals with. For example, in the case study situation, he followed the ideals of Raw’s in the Social Contract Theory, and does what society would deem the appropriate action. He also stays away from any extremes. In Jamali’s story, he is constantly embedded in the extremes of live, of people, communities, ect, and there’s specific scenes that he needs to capture in order to capture his visions, so he sort of breaks the social norms to get closer to the ideals of the extremes.
The VICEland channel is a big hit among the young adult world, and will only continue to become more popular as time goes on. I give much respect to the creators of the Viceland channel, because although there are a lot of things I don’t agree with 100% or that make me cringe a little when they show up on the screen, I know that what that channel is doing is creatively unique and bold, as they are the first to go as extreme of all of it’s kind, and it’s doing so with relatable cast members and extremely interesting show concepts. I’m very excited for the further development of this channel, and am proud that there’s a channel that allows for creative liberty within the company and allows for their employees to be submerged in work that they love, and that interest them, even if it’s not what is considered socially acceptable comfortable. I commend them for breaking the norms.