I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve pretty much lost total interest in cable TV. Why should I have to deal with endless commercials and the dozens of channels to flip through that I never watch anyway? Netflix is obviously better, isn’t it? Wrong. This past summer, my eyes opened to a new channel, Viceland.
Viceland is a network with no real anchorage. It’s programs are documentary style, reality television featuring different social and cultural issues experienced all over the world; it really has everything. From controversial topics such as the battle over legalization in the marijuana industry, to smaller topics for those interested in exploring abandoned places across the country with their history, and to the future of cyberspace and virtual reality, Viceland is what has made me actually enjoy TV again. And did I mention they’re committed to airing around 8 minutes of commercials per hour?
Over time, topics like recreational drug use and openly gay marriage have been labeled “taboo” and uncomfortable to talk about but do you ever take a second to realize that these are probably the most interesting things to talk about? Maybe it’s because we run into these situations on a day-to-day basis now. Acceptance and leniency are growing trends in this country. Viceland forces viewers to accept the reality.
To summarize some of Viceland’s most popular shows, Gaycation, takes viewers into the LGBTQ culture all over the world on a very personal level interviewing those in and out of the closet and the radicals who hunt them down. Another pressing issue is the discussion of marijuana legalization. Krishna Andavolu hosts Weediquette, which discusses weed culture across the world as it grows in popularity through medical and recreational use. He studies the stories of families who have moved their lives in order to seek legal treatment for their kids and local growers who face a serious competitive issue as the possibility of a weed market swirls around. Thomas Morton throws himself “balls deep” into the lifestyles of different people in one of Viceland’s edgier (and appropriately) named shows, Balls Deep, participating in Ramadan, working on tugboats, and reliving his last week of high school with a couple of seniors. Feminist, Gloria Steinem, hosts Woman, a look at the oppression and progression of women over the years.
As humans we can break down our unique realities and discover that we are all oppressed in a way. We are all oppressed women at different levels. No one oppression is above the other. We are all serving someone or something that we feel is undeserving. We all have differences. We can all learn from each other’s differences by jumping into them “balls deep,” accepting that uncomfortable feeling, and growing from it. The LGBTQ community in the United States is a very fortunate nation to have finally received full rights to same sex marriage, but the value of same sex marriage is not as appreciated in other countries and it’s something we need to pay attention to. We are all put on this same earth. We can all either struggle in solemn silence or we can find ways to help each other. The waters don’t part us anymore. This is the biggest and best thing Viceland brings to the table: we have a responsibility to be aware of the world’s day-to-day problems. There are no excuses to do otherwise.
Viceland has received much criticism from the older generation, referred to as television on drugs and for teenage potheads due to their open references to drugs and the transitions with wild graphics and accompanied by EDM music, however it is made to appeal to millennials as “psychedelic” in order to get them interested in real world problems. The level of inattentiveness teenagers show in news is nothing new, so the Vice mentality is to dress it up as if they don’t even realize they’re watching the news. Whatever works, right? Their tripped out appearance is only the surface to a much deeper pool of social and cultural issues.
The biggest challenge the network openingly accepts is the decrease in television watching the millennial age has displayed over the years. Vice CEO, Shane Smith addressed this issue in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter before the channel’s launch, “In twelve months from now, we’ll be on the cover of Time magazine as the guys who brought millennials back to TV.”