Nothing happens fast anymore.
Last week Vice was a news outlet for youngsters, not the prepubescent set the music industry caters to, but the late teens to thirtysomethings with a brain who like to stay informed, who like to mull over issues and form their own opinions, absent the ravings of dictatorial oldsters who believe they know better, these same personages who called the election wrong, who marginalized Bernie Sanders and dismissed Donald Trump, heard anything about Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently?
Today, Vice is the purveyor of note, the breakthrough news service, the one with the embedded reporter letting the right wing protesters speak for themselves, but standing up to them when they show no remorse and get the facts wrong.
We’re used to journalism grads. Coiffed and pampered, people looking like robots who read the news sans emotion, told that no opinion should be exuded or expressed. And that’s how we got into this mess, false equivalencies in the media.
Or else we’ve got the bloviators, believing their opinion is correct, yelling over anybody who dares to interrupt them.
And now we’ve got this young woman who looks like the audience allowing the perpetrators to tell their own story.
I heard about it from Felice first. She’s addicted to the HBO show, she watches it every night, but she doesn’t tell me about it every night, but this time she did. That’s the essence of today’s society, you have to create something that ignites word of mouth. And too many lowest common denominator players believe that means train-wreck content, that which gets you to drop your jaw and stop. But train-wreck doesn’t last, it’s seen for what it is, candy, and you can’t live on candy, you need protein.
Then Jake called me from Toronto. Had to iMessage me the link. It was that powerful. And Vice didn’t advertise it, didn’t take a victory lap, but it did post it to YouTube for all to see. Just like with Spotify, while oldsters and the ignorant are bitching they’re getting ripped-off, upstarts use the new tools to get ahead. That’s right, while rockers were bitching about getting paid, rappers were posting their content on Soundcloud and Spotify and suddenly hip-hop became the sound of the nation. Not that any news outlet picked up on this, they were too busy repeating the protestations of the oldsters. Come on, when was the last time David Lowery had a hit, impacted the culture?
So the Vice video was lying in wait, for people to see it. Once again, the enemy is not nonpayment, but OBSCURITY!
So I watched it. Jake was so passionate about it. Not only do you respect the opinions of friends, you want to be a member of the club, you want to be able to talk intelligently, discuss what you’ve seen.
And you cannot watch the Vice video without feeling like you’re being pulled into an alternative reality that was somehow not depicted in the mainstream media. We got the usual story. ABOUT something instead of the real thing. But watching the Vice video you were truly in the belly of the beast.
And when I watched it the Vice video had under a million views. Was this truly possible? Had the counter not just caught up?
So I tweeted about it. Because I couldn’t help myself, I was that moved. And I e-mailed Tom Freston, who shepherded MTV into the stratosphere and now helps guide Vice. Because you give kudos when due.
And then I got in my car and every news outlet was talking about it.
That’s right, I listen to the news in my car. On the satellite. That’s one reason to sign up for Sirius in these challenging times. They’ve got Fox and CNN and MSNBC and more, and I flip between them to get the different viewpoints, to get the lay of the land.
And they’re all mentioning the Vice video.
There was no promotion, the print media was far behind, hell, the L.A. “Times” app didn’t even feature the Trump story, half a day after it had happened.
This is how the modern world works.
You labor in obscurity for years, unable to break through, and then you get lucky. It’s not like the Vice majordomos sat in their office and rubbed their palms and declared this was gonna be their breakthrough moment, this is what they do, every weeknight on HBO, all over their websites. But they got lucky.
I know, I know, it’s hard to employ that term in the midst of a national crisis, when three people died, I still haven’t gotten over how Heather Heyer perished, never mind those two state troopers in the helicopter. But what touched me in my Twitter feed today was the GoFundMe for Tyler Magill, who suffered a stroke as a “result of blunt force trauma to his carotid artery after he was hit with a Torch on Friday night.”
And in one day, $66,240 has been donated.
And now 2,245,310 people have watched the Vice video on Charlottesville.
People are mislabeled, they’re seen as somnambulant, self-centered pricks who just don’t give a damn. But this is untrue. Think of all those people who donated to Tyler. Think of all those people who just had to watch the Vice video.
Nothing stays the same. We thought after the fall of the wall tyrants were done in Eastern Europe. Hell, after the treaty we believed that nukes were on the wane.
We thought network news was forever.
But then the screw turned.
News turned into an on demand item, constantly available. And although Al Jazeera failed in America, after mountains of publicity, Vice has started to gain steam, by doing it just a little bit different, telling the stories people are truly interested in, at length, because people have time for all that is riveting, and while you’re railing about talking heads on cable you’re gonna miss the takeover of the news by this upstart who has been there for years, but whose time has come.
Yesterday Vice finally had a hit. And in today’s world, one hit makes you a star. Most acts can’t follow that hit, there’s no there there, but not with Vice, it’s been making content for years, there’s more where that came from, all eyes are on Vice today.