Today, on the thirteenth anniversary of the time two planes flew into the World Trade Center and set in motion a series of events that have led to uncountable cases of torture, death, and oppression, we are talking about brands. Specifically, we are talking about brands that have decided to commemorate 9/11 through social media. Even more specifically, we are talking about a single tweet from Fleshlight, a company that makes fake vaginas for men to ejaculate into for pleasure:
The Fleshlight tweet has been circulated far and wide on websites because putting “Fleshlight” and “9/11” in a headline is Facebook traffic GOLD, baby, and also because it is pretty funny and gross and awful that companies are taking a few seconds to metaphorically bow their metaphorical heads and go: See guys, we feel sad about the sad thing too. Here is a picture of a flag!
Seventy years ago, teenagers didn’t exist. I mean, they did, but nobody called them that—they were called “our future workforce” and wore suits and smoked pipes and took elocution lessons when they were 13. You went to bed one day a child and woke the next morning an adult. But by the end of WWII, the idea of adolescence had evolved from a few years spent getting ready for a life as a coal miner or a lawyer into the Best Years of Your Life. Then, in 1945, the New York Times published an article defining this bizarre new word—”teenage”—and the concept became a part of the public consciousness.
A few years ago, music writer and cultural historian Jon Savage wrote a book about all that called Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945. The film adaptation of his book, directed by American filmmaker Matt Wolf and with an original score by Bradford Cox, gets its UK cinematic release on January 24. I gave both of them a call to talk about youth movements new and old and how great life is when you’re a teenager.
The trailer for Teenage
VICE: At the beginning of your film you say that the idea of the teenager is a wartime invention. Were there any pre-war youth movements that you left out? Jon Savage: They weren’t pre-war, but the ones who didn’t make it in are the Zazou. They were a French group in occupied Paris in the early 1940s who loved black American swing music—which was forbidden—wore English clothes, threw hidden parties, tried to avoid forced labor and, you know, annoyed the Gestapo. They also did something else fabulous: When the laws came in about wearing the yellow star, they made their own stars that, instead of “Jew,” said “Swing.” Then there were others that we didn’t get into too much detail about—the back-to-nature movements of the 20s, like the Wandervogel.
Oh yeah, the German proto-hippies who got naked and hung out in forests. Did that movement start during the First World War? Jon:No, they actually began in about 1900 in Germany.
So it wasn’t a reaction to the war? Jon: Well, it was a reaction to the militarization and industrialization of German society. There was also a generation gap between adolescents and their parents, and by the 20s there were lots of different groups. In fact, it’s bewildering the amount of groups there were by then, ranging from proto-fascist groups to hippies.
These two ads from a new campaign for Swarovski jewelry feature bony models getting “caught” buying and—gasp—even damn near eating food. Ladies? Better get yourselves some shiny baubles to deflect attention away from your disgusting habit of consuming life-giving sustenance.
People and Brands Have No Idea How to Commemorate 9/11
On September 11, 2001, I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t actually need to doanything—when the planes hit, I was on way to my high school in Seattle, Washington, 3,000 miles and three time zones away from the attack—but I remember feeling odd and disconnected and powerless. History was happenening, everyone knew that, yet unless you were in lower Manhattan you couldn’t do anything other than pray, watch TV, and wait for the next morning’s newspaper to come out. (In 2001, I’m pretty sure my parents still had dial-up internet, and I don’t think I knew anyone with a smartphone that could bring up the news instantaneously.)
Now September 11th is officially Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, because America needs another excuse to wave the flag and act serious and angry and pious. The problem is, we still don’t know what to do. Volunteering someplace seems like a good idea, though not everyone has the time to do that in the middle of the week. Spending a few minutes of thoughtful silence contemplating our mortality and our place in the world also couldn’t hurt. In the past, people have gathered together for rallies, some of which were basically excuses to bash Muslims. Hopefully fewer people are doing that.
But as the day becomes less and less connected to historical events—Osama bin Laden is dead, the US is finally, little by little, pulling troops out of Afghanistan—it’s a little unclear what the socially acceptable way to commemorate Patriot Day is.
Our Emmy-nominated HBO show recently wrapped up its first season, and complaint numero uno that we got throughout its run was: “I reaaaalllyyy want to watch your show, but I don’t have HBO.” Well, your cries have been heard. Earlier this week we released the first episode on VICE.com, and episode four went live yesterday. Today we’re giving you the third episode. Why did we post episode four before episode three, you ask? Don’t worry about it. Online media strategies can be very complicated and boring. Just enjoy the show! Next Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll release episodes nine and ten, respectively.
In episode three of VICE, Thomas Morton meets a gun-crazy pastor who teaches his young students gun drills and tactics to disarm attackers, and Shane Smith travels to Fallujah, Iraq, where a rise in birth defects has been linked to the American military’s suspected use of depleted-uranium munitions during the war.
Crowds on Demand, as the name suggests, is a company that will organize a crowd for you, on demand.
The main two times this service is required are: A) you’re an aspiring celebrity who wants to make it seem like people give a shit about you, so you hire some fake fans, or B) you believe in a cause and want to make it seem like people give a shit about it, so you hire some fake protesters.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t go along to see one of the company’s fake fan events (as they’re super secret,) so I went along to a fake protest they organized in Los Angeles, instead. While there, I sat down for a chat with their founder and CEO, Adam Swart.
Fake protesters raising tourists’ awareness on Hollywood Blvd.
VICE: So, what’s this event that’s happening now? Adam Swart, Crowds on Demand: It’s an event we’re doing in coordination with a charity. We’re trying to raise awareness about mental health issues. They want to raise a lot more awareness about mental health, which is an often overlooked issue when it comes to, uh, to policy.
OK. Are they paying you for this? They get a discount. We give charities discounts.
How many people are protesting here? About 20.
Are any of these guys real protesters or are they all provided by you? They’re all provided by me.
Can I ask how much they’re getting paid for this? They get $15 an hour.
Whenever a new social media platform becomes popular, the VICE Tumblr Team is frequently asked about our strategy for said platform. "How are you activating pix.fux?" "What are you doing on coolz-E?" Generally, our answer is “nothing,” because most social media sites are stupid and everyone forgets about them in like a month and it’s always easier (and often wiser) to just do nothing. But every once in a while one sticks and we’re obliged to create an account. And so, we’re proud to announce that we’ve finally decided upon our Snapchat strategy.
We’ve created an account, username: vicemag, and we want you to send us pictures. We will look at them, and if we like them we’ll take a screenshot. (Yes, we know that screenshotting Snapchats goes against the medium, but the VICE Tumblr Team hails from So-Cal, the DGAF capital of the world.) Then, assuming we’re sent cool photos, we’ll post a weekly round-up of our favorites on this here Tumblr. We won’t use your names. Also, we might send you some photos of our own. Cool?
In porn, one of the things I’m marketed as is “all natural.” This phrase basically indicates that I have not had breast implants or other obvious plastic surgery. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether I’ve dyed the hair on my head (yes, multiple times and a variety of colors), what temporary or permanent body-hair-removal procedures I’ve had done (many, including stuff involving lasers), the amount of makeup piled on my face, or the degree of Photoshop work that has been done to my photographs. It also ignores the fact that for a decent chunk of my career, I had metal bars through my nipples, and the last time I checked those things don’t come factory (or womb) installed. In the adult industry, natural is merely another word used for search-engine optimization, like teen, MILF, and big. Natural is not an expression of dictionary-definition fact. It is a marketing tool.
The term natural also gets thrown around in the entertainment and beauty industries. Countless websites have galleries of celebrities either caught without makeup by the paparazzi or posing bare faced for photo spreads in magazines. Depending on the publication, commentary ranges from “OMG ewww!” through to gushing discussions of the bravery involved with said celebrity allowing themselves to be photographed without makeup. The whole concept of being “photographed in their natural state” carries an inherent silliness, because putting any kind of lens between the viewer and the thing being viewed makes it look different than it does to the naked eye. Different kinds of lighting change the way a person’s face looks, as does viewing it from different angles. You can easily experiment with this yourself if you have a camera lying around. As in the porn industry, use of Photoshop, subtle cosmetic surgery, or hair dye is rarely disclosed when a magazine labels a person’s appearance as “natural.”
This is what Anne looks like on the new cover. Anne of Green Gables should not be jerk-off fodder, but here we are.
The new book jacket of Anne of Green Gables has been causing a stir among fans of the book, who say that (paraphrasing): “That whore is not Anne of Green-fucking-Gables.”
It might be a coming-of-age story, but this edition really seems to focus on the “of-age” aspect—as in, “barely legal.” Furthermore, enough of the plot is predicated on her red hair to suggest that whoever took this photo didn’t bother reading the book. What is this, fifth grade? Read the book before you hand in your assignment, cover art designer dude.
Based on this cover, I would guess that Anne of Green Gables is the sultry tale of a romp in the barn with the farmer’s daughter, not a story about a spunky, adventurous, red-headed orphan with her own unique sensibilities.