Never bet against Tom Freston.
And he’s bet on Shane Smith.
As MTV cedes its reign as the voice of a generation, as websites go click-happy, with an ever-descending parade of lowest common denominator drivel, Vice is rising like a phoenix to become the most important media outlet appealing to the younger generation.
That’s right, kids need something to talk about on WhatsApp. Steve Jobs famously said that Apple computers were just tools, long before today’s puffed-up tech titans will have us believe that their products are ends unto themselves.
Yes, what we’ve got is tireless self-promoters of the soulless and the worthless.
Welcome to 2014.
And into this mix we put Shane Smith. A Canadian who looks like someone you’d hang with in a bar, who’d have your back, but wouldn’t be unwilling to argue with you.
Argument. That’s something the younger generation doesn’t do well. They’re inundated with business advice how to get along. As if all rough edges should be shaved away in the pursuit of harmony. But the truth is there’s no center to many of these cliques. And the history of people illustrates that individuals who walk the road not taken triumph, they’re the ones who not only gain our eyeballs, but change the world.
You can’t stop watching Vice on HBO. It’s kind of like the “Sopranos,” if the “Sopranos” were real.
What we normally get with news is bloviating, arguing from a position, with two teams so loyal to themselves that you can’t trust a word they say. Come out against your party and you’re excommunicated, just ask David Frum, another Canadian.
So Shane Smith goes to Afghanistan and does a better job of asking what we’re doing there than MSNBC or Fox, never mind CNN, the all plane crash all the time network.
And then Vice goes to Greenland and frightens anybody watching into climate change belief, because pictures speak louder than words, when they’re displayed in a way that respects the audience.
And there you have it, the mantra of the twenty first century is SMART!
Forget the Kardashians, the rest of reality television too. That’s fodder for the ignorant masses, it’s all about money, and despite what the media tells you, with its endless scorecards, money isn’t everything, ideas are.
And there are plenty of people in business who are smart, but they’ve drunk the kool-aid. They’re loyal team players in search of financial security, they’re afraid to do it someone else’s way, they just want the CEO riches, so they can fly private and live behind walls.
Then there are people like Mr. Smith, who are willing to tip the world on edge to see what’s underneath.
It started with TED talks. But the people they feature are smarmy, it’s almost cult-like, with the endless backslapping and the exclusion of anybody provocative, Google Nick Hanauer’s talk for edification, never mind Sarah Silverman’s.
Yes, groupthink is prevalent on the left and the right, it pervades the young and old, but the truth is we’re drawn to the exception, those who march to the beat of their own drummer in pursuit of excellence.
Yes, Vice started with a bang, Dennis Rodman in North Korea, it got our attention.
But now it’s season two, and the focus is on information, which is king in today’s age. That’s why we’re endlessly surfing, why we’re addicted to our smartphones, we’re on a quest for information.
But too much is biased, it’s hard to believe in any one viewpoint.
And then this burly Canadian comes along and you say this is what I’ve been waiting for, this is the thing!
It’s only just beginning. Vice has been around forever, but it’s finally hit critical mass. By being smart it influences people.
And the most impressionable are those who push the envelope most, the young.
Yes, the young are gonna change this world, just like their parents protested and stopped the Vietnam war. The young are not beholden to their jobs, they’re willing to risk.
Assuming they’ve got a leader.
And right now, in this endless sea of b.s., where every website is asking us to click on worthless information so they can sell advertising, where Buzzfeed is lionized and idiots actually care what Arianna Huffington has to say, someone has sneaked upon the scene to change everything.
That’s the power of television.
That’s the power of Shane Smith.
That’s the power of Vice.