If You Think You Can Survive on ‘Junk Food and Cigarettes’ You’re an Idiot
The Daily Mail has been trailing a new book this week by “leading science writer” Tony Edwards. Titled The Good News About Booze, which sounds like an off-license run by a Jehovah’s Witness, it tackles three of the middle class’s greatest obsessions: dying of cancer, mediocre sex, and drinks that middle-class people like. The first extract from the book, published last week, gave the paper a valuable opportunity to address the important question of whether red wine causes or cures cancer.
The book (or at least the extracts—the email I sent requesting a review copy remains unanswered) is exactly what you’d expect. Edwards claims to have conducted an “in-depth study of around half-a-million scientific papers about alcohol”, which is basically impossible unless he has an army of minions in his basement. In the best traditions of Malcolm Gladwell, he takes a banal and well-known truth—that drinking a moderate amount of red wine is healthy—and pretends it’s some kind of shocking revelation that some indefinable cabal of wine-hoarding misers don’t want you to know about. Throw in a few silly exaggerations for added measure, like “red wine may well be one of the most effective ‘medications’ in history” or “I’m just an averagely intelligent science journalist,” and you have a perfect piece of click-bait for the lazy editor to shove in the paper.
When You Wish Upon a Worldstar
If we’re being honest with ourselves, the cameraphone is the most important innovation of this nascent millenium. Consider the presence of video, drenching the very air around us with with viral potential. All you have to do is slip on the stairs, throw up on the subway, or throw down in the club and you’re more than probably going to be greeted with those two cascading syllables, the first drawn out, the second shriller, a staccato denouement to what’s become the de facto battle cry of our time—“WORLDSTAR.” What now? Are you more likely to punch that busdriver, or less? Is it worth it? Do you have a choice? The eyes of the world surround you, enter your body. You’ve become a gladiator for an emperor you can’t see. You’re meat, now—WorldStar is the world’s most democratic buffet, allowing you the choice to be either patron or meal. Either way, in the kitchen a friendly man with a wide grin and an impressive chain is counting his stacks.
When Lee O’Denat, bka Q, started WorldStarHipHop in 2005, he had no idea that he would be further contributing to the democratization of surveillance culture. He was just another internet-addled entrepreneur trying to make a website. Like so many before him, he realized that people like violence, nudity, and watching people engage in otherwise antisocial and lewd behavior. So, he catered WorldStar to fulfill those very compulsions, and it worked like gangbusters. Today, WorldStarHipHop is an empire, a self-sustaining behemoth that runs off of the folly of others, aired out for the world to see. Unlike YouTube, Worldstar’s become a brand unto itself, capitalizing on its own notoriety with series like “KO of the Week.” Q, argue some, is a monster, a guy who profits off of fuck-ups acting out in public and making our world tangibly worse in the process. Q, meanwhile, might contend that he’s just showing parts of society that exist—if society is fucked, is that his fault? No, and arguing otherwise is naive and reductive at best, and a dangerous perpetuation of the idea of the “nanny state” at worst.
Where Foucault warned us against a reality in which the authorities might be monitoring us at any given moment, WorldStar has created the opposite effect—we are all agents of surveillance culture, and suddenly, we’ve stopped worrying about the consequences of our actions, and instead consider their potential virality. If Q is holding up a mirror to society and showing us a bunch of people beating the shit out of each other on a Ferris Wheel or whatever, it’s not out of an urge to shame us, merely to point out that everybody’s been this fucked forever, and the fact that we’re still fascinated by people acting boorishly says way more about our world than the boorish behavior itself. Q—in person equal parts Steve Jobs, Sigmund Freud, Howard Stern, and Larry Flynt—was kind enough to stop by the VICE offices to chat with us, and despite running on two hours of sleep, offered a remarkably cogent and coherent defense of his site, which if you ask him, just might be the future of all media.
Noisey: You have kids, right?
Q from WorldStar: Yeah.
How old are they?
Kids are 14, seven, and four.
Does the 14-year-old watch WorldStar?
He loves WorldStar. He represents WorldStar. Wears the hoodie, the shirts, and he talks about it. Kids in his school love WorldStar. He also likes Grand Theft Auto. I love that game. We play together. Sometime we go online together. He’ll drive and I just go around robbing banks. He’s the getaway driver. We have fun.
Photographing the Backs of Sailors’ Heads
It’s 1982 and I’ve got a gig on a Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger. I climb aboard at Coronado Island across the San Diego Bay and get off seven days later in Honolulu, Hawaii. Three or four layers below deck I set up a portable portrait studio: three strobes on stands with a battery pack—two with umbrellas and one to spot the painted backdrop. I have an adjustable posing stool and a Beattie Coleman Portronic camera with a 100-foot roll of 70-millimeter color negative film. The Portronic sits on a roller tripod and has a slot for cards to ID the negatives. Approximately 3,000 men, who for the most part are still just boys, are slated for their yearbook portraits. These lucky sailors will hopefully purchase prints for the proud parents and girls in waiting back home in Dudvillie. I’ve borrowed the equipment from the storeroom of a portrait studio where I worked for a while and somehow ended up with my own key. I’m hoping to make a bundle.
The USS Ranger is a bustling city of men, many of whom live like cave dwellers and go for weeks at a time without seeing natural light. I think they’re all a bunch of idiots, but I can be quick to judge and tend to bristle around people in uniform. Enclosed in gloppy gray gloom, everything is narrow and riveted together. Heavy metal clanks echo from the walls but voices remain stationary. I eat with the officers in the mess hall and I’ve gone exploring and been lost three times by the second day.
Canada’s New Medical Weed Program Puts the Poorest Patients Last
At the moment, 40,000 Canadians are currently authorized to possess medical marijuana. Until April 2014, these patients can purchase their supply from a licensed personal producer, or they can get permission to grow it themselves, but soon every Canadian medical marijuana user will be forced to comply with a new medical program that will push them to buy legal medical weed from commercial government-regulated facilities.
Canada’s new “Marihuana for Medical Purposes” (yes, they spell it with an ‘H’ for some reason) program is creating an emerging for-profit market that will regulate crop control, dump money into the economy, and attempt to position Canada as one of the world’s top exporters of medical marijuana. But it’s the patients who are caught in the middle of an evolving system that threatens to make medical weed so expensive many will no longer be able to afford it, forcing them to continue growing their own personal stashes—which will be illegal as of April 2014—or buying it from regular ol’ pot dealers.
According to Health Canada, no one’s trying to turn sick Canadians into criminals with these new laws. It was more in response to problems with the current Marihuana Medical Access Program(MMAP), which a Health Canada spokesperson says is “open to abuse.”
Corsicans Are Using Bombs to Protest Their Island Paradise
If you’ve never been to Corsica, you really should. The island, which lies just off the Italian coast, is one of the most beautiful places in the world; it’s covered in snowy mountains, picturesque little towns, and luxurious golden beaches. In certain months, you can ski in the morning and sunbathe in the afternoon; it really is paradise (if combining sunburn and heavy nylon jackets is your idea of paradise). However, perhaps its strongest sell is that it is, officially, the murder capital of Europe.
Last year, I went to Corsica to explore the island’s historical predilection for violence. A week before I touched down in Napoleon Bonaparte airport, two prominent Corsicans—a lawyer named Antoine Sollacaro and Jacques Nasser, head of the chamber of commerce—had been shot dead. I was there to try to figure out who did it (and to make a film about trying to figure out who did it). Murder isn’t shocking in Corsica; there have been more than 110 murders since 2008, the majority of them Mafia-style hits. “At the beginning of the week, we think, It’s strange; we haven’t had a killing yet," Gilles Millet, a local journalist, told me. "This society is soaked in death. You call someone to do something and they say, ‘I can’t. I have a funeral to go to.’ Death is part of [daily] life here."
I asked Gilles who he thought was responsible for the deaths of Sollacaro and Nasser. “Normally everyone knows who’s done the killings, but with Sollacaro and Nasser, we don’t know,” he answered. “Despite everybody usually knowing who did it, there have only been four prosecutions since 2008—out of more than 110 murders. There’s a culture of silence here. Nobody talks, partly out of fear, partly because it’s just not the done thing.”
Kyrgyz Your Enthusiasm – Fresh Off the Boat: Moscow, Part 2
In Fresh Off the Boat - Moscow part two, Eddie further immerses himself in Russian culture. He learns what it was like to live under Soviet rule, shares tea with Kurdish immigrants, and begins to understand the issues that connect people, regardless of the invisible lines which separate them.
Grace “Let’s Dance!” and more in A-Z of Wink!
Detroit Is a Paradise, by Iain Maitland
Detroit, along with the country’s prison system, is one of the places where America puts everything it wants to hide—poverty, racism, violence. The city is one of the most racially segregated in the US, with 8 Mile Road quite literally cutting a line between black and white neighborhoods.
Being white and unemployed in Detroit is often an euphemism for being a drug dealer or having a modest trust fund. I am neither, but my rent is only $200, so I don’t have to scrape together too much each month. That gives me plenty of time to indulge in fantasies while walking around and photographing the city.
More photos from Detroit
The Exploited Laborers of the Liberal Media: Interns
Editor’s note: For years, VICE has used part-time unpaid interns—a practice that we recently halted. Our current policy is to pay interns $10 an hour and limit them to 20 hours a week during the school year and 25 hours a week during the summer.
I was 21 years old when I took out my earring, combed my hair, and tried concealing my distaste for power and Washington, DC, in order to ask questions at press conferences. It was the summer of 2006, and I had just left college to go work for a small, do-gooding nonprofit that covered Capitol Hill for public radio.
I went through the whole experience of being a journalist in the nation’s capital: attending deadly boring policy luncheons, interviewing near-dead lawmakers and dead-inside lobbyists, and dying a little inside myself every time I saw my work “edited”—turned into shameful garbage—before going on air.
Like any other reporter, I pitched stories at morning meetings and then did the legwork to put them together, in the process learning the job. While my gut impulse at first was to righteously confront the powerful with strident questions highlighting their logical inconsistencies and factual errors, I soon found it was often smarter to affect an earnest demeanor just a hair shy of sarcastic. You need to let the person being interviewed explain why he is terrible, which is more easily done when he thinks you are stupid or on his side.