Saturday, April 02, 2005

Youth Culture Killed My Blog

Now that I no longer live in Toronto, it is hard for me to get copies of Vice magazine. Vice is a free monthly publication that started in Montreal in 1994, and now has offices and editions in New York, Sydney, Tokyo, and everywhere else that it is cool and hip to publish an edgy, irreverant youth oriented journal from. The magazine can be gross and candid, but that is part of it's charm. Each issue has a theme, and my favourite one so far has been the 80's issue they did a couple of years ago. There is a kind of relentless "coolness" about the rag. As with skateboard culture, there is a tension in Vice between being individualistic and iconoclastic, and trying to fit in to a mold of undefined but real behavioural parametres. Nowhere is this more evident in Vice than in one of its most consistently amusing regular features: it's Do's and Don'ts section. This is generally two pages of small candid photographs accompanied by ironic commentary about why the person in the photo is or isn't, well, cool. The feature shows you how to avoid ridicule by following the gestalt of the stylists on the "Do's" page, and allows you to feel in on the joke as the editors lambaste the poor schmucks caught on the "Don'ts" page. What I have yet to see in the magazine is a Do's and Don'ts feature in which they use the same photos for both categories, merely changing the spin of the accompanying blurbs. This would lay bare the subjective and whimsical nature of "coolness", and would also undermine the primary marketing hook of the magazine: that some people are hip or "with it" while other people just miss the point. I'm not sure if being hip is a worthy ideal to strive for or not. Like a well-performed skateboard move it is probably something most perfectly achieved by not trying to achieve it; but every skateboarder knows how much effort and failure is necessary before one finally brings a certain manouver into focus to the point that it appears effortless. At any rate, you can check out Vice in the Fakiegrind links.

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