Have you heard of the hit new HBO show VICE? Well, now you have. Trust me when I say that this show is important. It’s also fucking nuts.
VICE is a fitting name because I’m hooked.
Each week I set myself down in anticipation of the awful truths the VICE team will reveal about our deranged planet. The premise of the show is simple. The team visits various conflict and hot zones around the world (e.g. Iraq and North Korea) and shows you a world you never knew existed and stories you’ve never heard.
Take for example the first episode where the team visited the Philippines. This country takes politics to a whole new level. Candidates and their families are murdered left and right. Militias are formed and roam around in broad daylight. Guns are built and sold freely making America’s gun culture look like an obsession with BB Guns.
If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then VICE’s exposé on how children are being misled by Islamic fundamentalists into committing heinous act of terror will move you to your core.
I’m not naive to the fact that we live in an ugly world. Still, I find the show to be an edifying and humbling experience. Of course, there is a lot of shock value involved and this is not a sanitized experience. How many media outlets would show the freshly dismembered head of a suicide bomber laying in a pool of innocent blood? Images like this appear harrowing to us because our psyches are severely sheltered and our assessment of the world at large is underdeveloped. It is ironic that the inter-connectivity afforded to us by the digital age has in many ways disconnected us from the harsh and sobering realities of the world.
In an age where journalism is reduced to gossip, pandering and a race for ratings, I applaud VICE for taking risks and pushing journalism to extremes where so few dare to tread.
Still, I feel that at the heart of all this VICE is a story of human tragedies. Some are self inflicted and others brought about by interlopers and despots. There is the story of the girl who tries to escape North Korea only to end up being forced into life of prostitution. Equally heartbreaking are the malformed children who are destined to die because of the after effects of the war in Iraq. This is very real stuff. I refuse to run a comparative analysis on the plights of different individuals because we all have our cross to bear. However, from the comfort of my armchair it’s hard not to think that some are heavier than others.
You can check out VICE on HBO here
You can watch the first episode free below