It’s been years since the world stopped holding its breath for MTV to return to playing music videos. And I’m pretty sure we’d also given up hope the network would ever run any programs of substance. (Sadly, Jersey Shore and Teen Mom just don’t cut it.)
But, here is a glimmer of hope: the newish Vice Guide To Everything, a Vice magazine-produced program airing Mondays at 11pm. Though MTV will never be completely forgiven for creating a world where the Situation can earn $5 million this year, it looks like the network might very well be on its way to redemption with this show.
Many of you are likely to roll your eyes at the mention of Vice. But allow me to remind you that VBS, Vice’s online video network, is totally different from the magazine and a really great producer of online television. For instance, VBS was behind Heavy Metal In Baghdad and similarly packaged documentary shorts on North Korea, Liberia and Hurricane Katrina. And did I mention Spike Jonze is creative director of the whole operation?
Anyway, the VBS team delivers once again with The Vice Guide To Everything, a newsmagazine-style program about “the absurdity of the modern condition: the most interesting people, news, sub-cultures and rituals on the planet.” The trailer really doesn’t do it justice, but the show’s first four episodes include segments on a weapons trade show in Jordan, hardcore black metal in Norway, cybercrime and e-waste in Ghana, and a handful of other fascinating stories you’re unlikely to read about in the Times.
With international bureaus being slashed by newspapers and magazines around the world, the quality (and quantity) of foreign reporting we have access to is less than stellar. Not only does it tend to be limited to coverage of wars and diseases and natural disasters, we rarely hear from people who aren’t in positions of power. The stories highlighted by The Vice Guide To Everything are a welcome departure from that.