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Film

Hipster wanderlust with unexpected results

Posted by John / November 3, 2006

viceguide.gifI've ranted about Vice magazine on numerous occasions, but it's a difficult rant, because the frequent unreadability and hilariously contrived tone taken by many of the writers is balanced by the fact that the concept on the whole is obviously brilliant. I can talk about how dumb the fashion Dos and Don'ts are, but I'll be grudgingly amused by them if there's nothing else to read in somebody's bathroom. And many of the articles that detail drug-induced misadventure or other escapades of dubious intelligence display some kind of neediness on the part of the authors, as though they're being dumb purely to receive validation from the arbiters of hipster cool ... but, damn if I don't wish I'd had those ideas.

Another idea I wish I'd had, or at least been even indirectly involved with, is the Vice Guide To Travel DVD. Which, I hate to admit, is quite fascinating, extremely clever, and totally transcends the usual limitations of the Vice genre. You know, if there is a Vice genre.

The Vice Guide To Travel is seven short documentaries about seven trips taken by various Vice staffers and hangers on. Naturally, they go to places that are crazier and more dangerous than most people go to, at least in part, in my opinion, to prove that they are cool. But the posturing ends pretty much immediately, largely because the situations they find themselves in are so far removed from the settings in which they can comfortably display their name-brand nonconformity. Faced with gunfire in the druglord-controlled slums of Rio or the threat of radiation poisoning from a contaminated forest in Chernobyl, the travellers can't put up a facade.

At the same time, their experience-tourism oneupmanship -- loosely, "we're going to go to crazier places than you are"-- has resulted in a possibly inadvertent but nonetheless pretty deadly critique of the off-the-beaten-path travel genre. More and more travel TV shows and magazine articles take on a knowing tone that seems to suggest that, because the narrator or host has an understanding of the cultural implications of tourism and a lack of interest in resort travel, they're somehow above the limitations of being a tourist. This DVD is by no means an audiovisual version of a Pico Iyer collection, but in going to the very extreme (forget about finding a never-written-about side street in Ulan Bator, let's try to buy a nuclear bomb from a Bulgarian arms dealer), they wander into a good parody of extreme travel.

There's a party in honour of the DVD's release on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Zoobizarre, and the film will screen at ResFest later this month.

Discussion

7 Comments

Rizal / February 5, 2015 at 01:30 am
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