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Introduction

Vice Media, Inc.’s branding is fundamentally about pushing boundaries. It is today’s avant-garde version of “the next ESPN, MTV and CNN rolled into one.” It takes an experimental and innovative approach to covering topics such as politics, art and culture – an approach that applies across all of its properties and content. A champion of the “Immersionist” form of journalism, it is an antithesis to the methods of mainstream news outlets. Vice’s success is mostly attributable to its highly critically acclaimed branding as authentic, edgy, innovative, risk-taking, adventurous, and its representation of ‘Hipsterdom.’ As the company has transitioned, so have the media formats it’s utilized, also serving as a brand tactic.

Vice – as a vehicle for vocalizing the ethos of Hipsterdom  – expanded that cultural movement and also enjoyed growth itself, as Hipsterdom has shifted further from subcultural to mainstream. Vice achieved this by executing authentic branding in line with its loyal brand community. The members of the community, Hipsters, were highly receptive to Vice’s brand messaging. As a proponent of subcultures and alternative ways of life, Vice has been the voice of this subcultural movement. It has even been widely coined “the Hipsters’ bible.” As Businessweek stated all the way back in 2005, “(Vice) reliably regards the world with unbridled ridicule,” and “it blends hip-hop and white postcollegiate hipsterism.” And, Vice has now trumpeted its alternative nature (along with Hipsterdom trumpeting Vice) into the mainstream and widened its target consumer base, accommodating the much broader demographic that identifies with Hipster aesthetics today.

What’s A Hipster?

Let’s take a closer look at Hipsterdom so we have a sharper understanding of the type of consumer, and their consumption habits, addressed in this essay:

Hipsterdom is a post-modern subculture of generally urban, middle-class, youthful people. Their identity is related to a statement by Marx: “the labour of the individual (the producer) asserts itself as part of the labour of society only by means of the relations which the act of exchange establishes directly between the products, and indirectly, through them, between the producers” (Marx, 321). Hipsters are uber-conscious of how a consumerist culture is made on the back of the marginalized laborer. That’s why they actively resist feeding into “the system” through consumption of commodities that demonstrate their sensitivity to the ethical shortcomings of the mainstream. Hipsters fetishize the “authentic” as consumers because “authenticity” is different, tasteful and culturally aware – the backbone of their social character formation. They’re eclectic sensibilities are associated with indie music, a non-mainstream fashion sense, progressive and independent political views and alternative lifestyles, and the use of irony to express their often liberal arts degree-influenced critiques of the mainstream. You can read more on that here.

How Vice Does Branding

I will now discuss the ways in which Vice has cultivated its branding. As Banet-Weiser asserts, “Brands become the setting around which individuals weave their own stories… a brand is the perception – the series of images, themes, morals, values, feelings, and sense of authenticity conjured by the product itself” (Banet-Weiser, 4). We will see how Vice’s “setting” is designed to resonate with the Hipster world as a haven for them to “weave their own stories.” Vice serves as a benchmark for an accurate definition of the aesthetic.

Vice first truly made its name producing “The Vice Guide To Travel,” where co-founder Shane Smith went to some of the most extreme, intense, and violent populated areas in the world and completely immersed himself. In “The Vice Guide To Liberia,” Smith spent days with a former warlord who killed over 20,000 people, hung out with child heroin addicts and went to Liberia’s worst brothels, among other insane activities. As username ‘basil lutfi’ aptly stated in the comments section of the official YouTube video for the full-length documentary, “shane smith you’ve got balls.” The video has received 5.85 million views on YouTube, which is extremely rare for a 53:31 minute video.

More recently, he was one of the first Western journalists to get into North Korea and film extensively. He also managed to visit North Korea again with Dennis Rodman and The Harlem Globe Trotters to see Kim Jung Un. In late 2012, when software pioneer John McAfee was making international headlines for being on the run in Gautemala after he was linked to a murder, he allowed only Vice journalists to spend time with him. These acts served to brand Vice as able to do what no other media networks can, earning its authenticity and acclaim from those who want to identify, also, as unique, eclectic, alternative and adventurous. 

Another example of Vice’s taste-making success is its fashion-themed “Dos and Don’ts” section. This section hosts many slides of two images next to each other, labeled “Do” or “Don’t,” with a snarky, witty caption explaining the rationale. Many of the photos are snapped from the seediest sections of New York City’s and L.A.’s nightlife scenes, so the results are often quite interesting. This section literally started as a snarky, condescending way of making fun of hilariously dressed weird people – and to get good content out of it. Now, in existence for over 17 years, “Dos and Don’ts” has been turned into two books and heralded by multiple major media sources. The popular style blog Fashionista stated, “Long before street style became a phenomenon there was Vice ‘Dos and Don’ts.’” It’s also gotten praise from Gigaom and Gawker. Username ‘orlana’ went as far as to state, in the comments section of the second ‘Dos and Don’ts’ book’s page of goodreads.com, “This is the only book I have ever pre-ordered on Amazon… There is a release party tomorrow! Maybe I will even go and hobnob with the hiptastic-est hipsters! And let them judge me and my terrible fashion! Okay, maybe I won’t go. But I will buy the fuck out of this book.” It should also be noted that ‘orlana’ loves the Vice content but self-identifies as not a Hipster. Her comment was made on July 10, 2012, further evidence that by that date it was common for people not strictly within that subculture to be fans of Vice.

Vice’s Hipster Fans Through Images

Another way to identify Vice’s Hipster fans is through images from Vice’s Facebook.

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We see an individual wearing a plaid t-shirt in the center-most section of the photo, with a shirtless gentleman to the right who is full-bearded and bald. Plaid shirts and the full-bearded look have historically been associated with blue-collar men who live in rural environments and work in manual labor. These two people could very well live in Bushwick and do the opposite — which is ironic.

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A wholesome family brand ubiquitous throughout America’s mainstream cultural narrative re-appropriated in a subversive and explicit way — very hipster.

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Polka dots, tattoos, nose ring, tight-fitting jeans

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More plaid and micro-brews. Brooklyn Brewery is located in Williamsburg (across the street from Vice’s Brooklyn office).

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Please see the woman to the left who stands out the most in this picture. Being in your 50s-60s and coming to a Vice party with long dyed gold hair, extremely heavy make-up, leopard pants, an oversized belt and a feathered ornament around your neck is very, very hipster.

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More miscellaneous images of Vice party-goers in hipster-esque garb.

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Resistance To The Brand

The Vice brand has also been met with resistance, mainly by communities who identify as anti-culturally elitist, and are resentful of their perception that Vice has a self-labeled, ego-centric coolness identity. One such community is the followers of the Twitter account “Vice_is_hip.” The account is a series of fake Vice headlines, with the occasional re-tweet of a real Vice headline that sounds like it could just as easily be one of the fake Vice headlines. The account is a parody of Vice’s often bizzare, gonzo-journalism focused headlines that go to great rhetorical lengths to attract readers. This is a real Vice headline: “Exploring the depressing house of Michael Jackson’s disgraced dermatologist.” This is a parody Vice_is_hip headline: “Why Suge Knight is training up his nephew to fight in LA’s underground bare knuckle Bitcoin boxing scene.” This account has 57,696 followers as of January 26, 2014 and has been profiled in New York Magazine, Ad Age and The Independent. This demonstrates there are a solid-enough amount of people out there who resent Vice’s brand identity that all these major publications felt their readers would get a kick out of this parody. Yet, it further asserts Vice as polarizing, edgy and major enough to get – albeit negative – so much action from a simple parody Twitter account.

Widening Demographics

The company’s ideal customers have become more generalized than the more orthodox-level Hipster we have discussed until this point. Vice’s target market has expanded to merely youthful taste-makers with high cultural capital. Bourdieu defines ‘habitus’ as a “system of disposition, a system that organizes the individual’s capacity to act” (Lury, 91). These peoples’ habitus situates them in a position to be first to adopt what’s cool, achieving the representation of creative, autonomous and having alternative outlooks on the world and their lives. Their habitus leads to their high cultural capital. Other people, in theory, admire these free thinkers and follow their lead. Vice has applied its identity as an alternative frame of cultural reference by expanding its taste and sensibility to coverage of fashion, photography, sports, music and food – more avenues to assert its taste into a more complete set of queues for high cultural capital lifestyle formation.

Vice has also aggressively pushed into new platforms to deliver its content. As its music blog Noisey has become more successful and Vice was dramatically helping the careers of artists it discovered, it started a record label. This label has taken musicians who were completely unknown outside of their subcultural niches and brought them into the mainstream – much like Vice’s own progression. Two examples of musicians who’ve gone from nobody to famous via Vice Records are The Black Lips (116K Facebook Likes) and Action Bronson (164K Facebook Likes), a demonstration of the brand community’s reception. When YouTube rose, Vice began its highly successful YouTube channel and downscaling of its print magazine – matching the use practices of its mostly digitally native customers. It now has the capability of executing multi-platform brand integrations as part of its business model. For example, recently, Vice promoted the movie “Bad Grandpa” starring Johnny Knoxville by presenting a “Behind The Scenes” clip from the filming. Knoxville’s character Irving Zissman then co-starred in an episode of Vice’s series “Slutever.” Knoxville was also a guest on an episode of Vice’s podcast to talk about making the movie. This promotion’s views are easily calculable – thus, easily monetizable. Also, because of Vice’s brand loyalty on YouTube (over 4 million subscribers and over 357 million all-time video views), they can promote sponsors to the same amount of eyeballs as prime time advertising spots on major TV networks, but with extraordinarily lower production and syndication costs. The three Bad Grandpa-themed videos Vice put out on YouTube did a combined 1.45 million views. Bad Grandpa was directed by Vice’s former Creative Director, Spike Jonze. After vacating this position at Vice, he later went on to direct major successful films such as Adaptation, Where The Wild Things Are, and, quite recently, Her. Jonze is yet another example of Vice’s affiliation with a person or entity before they/it went mainstream – more public representation of Vice’s early-adopter taste.

This simple conversion of loyalty to (low-production cost) equity generates major brand value for Vice. Arvidsson explains, “Brand value represents the present value of predictable future earnings generated by the brand” (Arvidsson, 238). Vice’s ability to strongly promote co-branded content parallels Arvidsson’s statement, “one should consider the ‘emotional and self-expressive benefits as well as functional benefits,’” because the proof Vice has “fostered attachments” is in the brand community’s positive sentiment towards the Vice brand. Thus, Arvidsson’s statements demonstrate to us the symbiotic ties between Vice and Hipsterdom because – as we’ve discussed – Vice’s brand community is largely made up of those who subscribe to the Hipster aesthetic.

Vice + Hipsterdom Finally Mainstream

Vice has also moved into news and political coverage in two forms: serious documentary-style coverage and snarky, opinionated pieces. One of those snarky pieces is titled “The U.S. Government Shut Down Because Everything Is Stupid.” This is reflective of that political weariness and visible lack of affiliation of the Hipsters, expressed through irony and snark. Content in this vein may alienate certain consumers but Vice is successful because it is edgy. Yes, it wants to be digestible enough to attract a broad array of demographics but shedding its polarizing nature would be shedding its authenticity, its brand identity. Vice’s news and political coverage has become so successful that they had a news program air on HBO, which was renewed for a second season and nominated for an Emmy.

Having a show on HBO and being nominated for an Emmy is a very mainstream thing to do so it may seem to not fit with their image, but it does. It’s a powerful evolution of it. What it displays is that Vice has so successfully cast away the mainstream to create its own cultural movement that the mainstream is adopting it. It’s a Hipster’s ultimate dream come true; that the world you detest and critique is telling you you’re right and that it, in fact, wants to change for you, to fit you into it.

In short, what that means is Vice won. They took their subcultural movement mainstream, still keeping its core messaging and identity in tact. That is why Vice is now a $1.8 dollar company that Fox Searchlight recently purchased 5% of for $70 million. Again, a very mainstream, capitalistic move for the leader of alternative youth media, but very much a part of the grand strategy.

Conclusion

It is impossible to present empirical evidence proving Vice is directly responsible for the rise of today’s hottest cultural movement, Hipsterdom. But, I have demonstrated how they are inextricably linked, and how being a member of the Hipster community means it’s normal to be a Vice fan, and being a Vice marketer means it’s normal to go after the Hipster demographic.

And what a demographic it now is. Identity formation used to be predicated on where you were born, what family you were born into, and what geographic location you live in. Although these factors are still major, they have never mattered less. As Sophy Bot discusses in her TEDx Talk titled “The Hipster Effect,” you don’t really know what an object symbolizes today because re-appropriation and the ability to choose is ever-growing. You may see someone with a fedora on and think they’re a Hipster but their dad could have given it to them or a girlfriend simply told them it looked good. You don’t really know. Yet, we are so quick to judge people based on what we think the object means. She goes on to say how Senator Warren Hatch recently called President Obama a Hipster – and when the president is being accused of being a Hipster you know the word has reached a major level of cultural saturation. For example, Bot stated, Googling of the word “Hipster” has doubled since 2010.

Despite the word’s negative connotation, the cultural movement is still growing. Bot asks why that is. She concludes that it’s because more people are recognizing their freedom of choice – to do what they want and be who they want to be, whatever that may look like. This freedom has led to so much personal agency in re-appropriation of cultural symbols that commodities have fluid meanings now, lacking permanent definitions. This is what Arvidsson meant by, “Consumer goods function as ‘linking devices’ that enable the crystallization of however transitory (or even ‘neo-tribal’) forms of community” (242). I cannot help hear the term ‘neo-tribal community’ and not think of Bot’s examination of Hipsterdom. However, opaque and amorphous Hipsterdom may be, it is today’s booming neo-tribal community, linked by a consumer good such as Vice. Vice too is opening the flood gates of a new era of rule breaking in self-expression. Everyone in the community is connected by their flexibility in self-expression.

Again, it’s impossible to empirically prove Vice caused this cultural metamorphosis but, as I’ve examined, it is certainly the only media source so intertwined with and influential in Hipsterdom’s saga. Bot’s message has been personified in Vice’s content since day one so it isn’t surprising the growth rate of “the Hipsters’ bible” has paralleled Hipsterdom’s. And now that we apparently even have a Hipster president, time will only tell how far the movement, and the media brand, can go.

 


Arvidsson, Adam. “Brands: A Critical Perspective.” Journal of Consumer Culture. University of Copenhagen. London: SAGE Publications, 2005. Digital.

Banet-Weiser. Authentic. New York: New York University Press, 2012. Print.

Lury, Celia. Consumer Culture, 2nd Ed. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2011. Print.

Marx, Karl. Capital: Critique of Political Economy. “Fetishism of Commodities.” Germany: Verlag von Otto Meisner, 1894. Digital.

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For my Haul experiment, I ate at a Vegan restaurant to soak in the food and ethos of Veganism. (Note: I’m not Vegan. Not even close.) I got carrot juice, a salad and a Mexican bowl (pictured). The food itself is less important than the ethos of Vegan culture. Based on my experience, I’ll explore what that ethos can mean for some people who subscribe to Veganism.

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Many Vegans choose the diet for its health benefits, which evidence an overall lifestyle that places a large emphasis on health and wellness. This most likely includes a focus on fitness, such as yoga or running. Another popular reason for being Vegan is a moral opposition to consuming animals or financing the meat industry: the activist reasoning. Individuals who subscribe to either reasoning/ lifestyle are traditionally politically and culturally liberal. Thus, we see the structure of an “imagined community (Canclini).” Veganism is an element of the lifestyle of individuals in the same network, whether that network is health and wellness, animal rights activism or something else. Veganism is a behavior characteristic of broader subcultures.

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Veganism as part of an “imagined community” relates to Douglas and Isherwood’s statement “commodities are good for thinking.” Being a Vegan represents something beyond just a dietary choice. It’s a branding of social consciousness and, in some cases, self-righteousness. It is an encoding one transmits that others decode to be more aware of how you govern your life – that of a health or socially conscious person.

This encoding also relates to Veblen’s “conspicuous consumption” because there is often an economic barrier to entry to being a Vegan. Sometimes people use Veganism as a guise to assert their status, in that they have the luxury of exercising that level of health without the necessity to rely on lower-cost food items.

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This can be further examined by considering Bourdieu’s ideas of habitus. Veganism was once an element of the sub-cultural wave of the ‘new-age’ culture of holistic health. At this point, however, the holistic lifestyle has been regurgitated and repurposed through so much media and education that it is a fixture of mainstream culture. For example, publicly traded corporations such as Lululemon have succeeded by branding themselves as a lifestyle company aligned with this group. We see the commoditization of the holistic lifestyle here. Young people today were not alive during the rise of ‘new-age’ holistic health culture (circa Dr. Andrew Weil, 1970s) so the lifestyle Veganism is a part of has been socialized into their sensibilities, taste and consciousness; their habitus. It could be argued that, as a result of this mainstream socialization, Veganism is losing its “cultural capital” as it becomes even more widespread and common place.

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(Pricey to maintain for most.)

A prerequisite of making a haul video is being a commodity fetishist, someone who the corporations “got to.” For the most part, individuals in this state aren’t consciously aware of the fact that they’ve been “gotten to” because they possess the high suggestibility/ lack of awareness that necessitated their manipulation in the first place. In that light, I found this haul video interesting because the subject made it clear she was aware of the ostentation and pretention of a haul video and grappled with the fact that she was going through with it anyways because she couldn’t resist the potential social capital gain.

This grappling displays that the subject buys into, participates in and accepts the public’s appropriation of commodities to construct and make meaning of concepts such as ‘truth’, ‘beauty’ and ‘utility’ (Arvidsson, pg. 236) while, simultaneously, recognizing another set of more humanistic values. She is debating which value set will bring her more utility. It’s a question of how she wants to live her life, and she’s having an identity crisis.

Arvidsson states that being “actively engaged in the social construction of consumer goods… produces a common in the form of community, a shared identity” (pg. 242). This girl is having an inner battle between being a part of that community and making social capital gains within it but not compromising her meta-values (her more fundamental, instinctual values). What’s driving her into this conflict is the fear of being alone. She just wants to be accepted.

This girl’s fear of not being accepted driving her to make a haul video is indicative of the psychological stimuli behind these public ploys at social capital gain. It shows that underlying consumerism may be, simply, fear. This video is evidence that the point of consumption is just to get other people to think you’re worth being liked. It’s a complex psychological dynamic but one that is so fundamental to being human.

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The article “NYU Professor: Are Student Loans Immoral?” by Andrew Ross is a candid and brutally honest look into the dismal reality of our college education system – one that is so bleak that educators are now provoked into real heart-felt meditations on whether or not they truly can sleep at night while being complacent within it.

I read this article from the perspective of a soon-to-be college graduate. I’ve learned tremendously in college. I’ve enjoyed the process. I succeeded academically. I am forever different as a thinker and a lifelong learner because of it. And I still do not think this is even remotely worth its cost besides the sheer fact that I get the piece of paper at the end. It’s mind-blowing to me that young lives and families are ruined so they can ultimately, really, just get the piece of paper. This isn’t an insightful or original observation, but it’s powerful to understand it first-hand now that I’m almost done with all this.

My generation (Millennials/ Gen Ys) are in a pretty weird place. I know the general run down: we all think we’re special, we’re reluctant to work hard, we think opportunities are just going to happen, we’re naïve. In this economy, we need to take it on the chin, stop thinking we’re special, work viciously hard and earn it like every other generation. This article from The Huffington Post (via Wait But Why) that’s been flying around the Internet this week basically sums it up.

I’ve shared the same frustrations as this author at times but here’s what he leaves out: the narcissistic lazy brats he paints “a large portion” of my generation out to be are people who’ve had “you can be anything you want to be” reinforced into their psyches since day one and are now crippled with the unrelenting pressure of a set of expectations – both external and internal – that are impossible to achieve.

Also, considering the realities Ross discusses, categorizing a decent handful of my generation as these narcissistic lazy brats is too dramatic a misinterpretation of what being in this generation really is like to be excused. You can’t just simply quantify my age group while ignoring the realities of the world we’re inheriting. My generation has not only inherited the faulty parenting that brought about these issues that make for an easy target in a snarky, condescending, pseudo-academic blog post, but we’ve also been handed down a broken political system, an education system that is institutionally racist and has a debt bubble about to burst, a private health care system that costs the government more money than any public health care system in the world, the prospect of losing social security, and a damaged climate – to name just a few.

Regardless of these realities, the ‘narcissistic lazy brat’ generalization most likely exists because those individuals are greater participants in consumer culture. Their commodity fetishism causes advertisers to target them and they are depicted in media to a greater degree. This creates a financially influenced slant in representation, where these individuals seem to have more presence than they truly have. Additionally, this demographic take more action to represent themselves via channels such as social media, furthering their cultural impact and amplifying the noise they make. This slanted representation is reflected in the mere fact the author believed this social commentary applied to a large portion of my generation even though it’s more indicative of a minority. Meanwhile, my generation’s more telling story, the one detailed by Ross, is forgotten.

I personally know the author of this Huffington Post blog post. He went to the same excellent elementary, middle and high school as me, and had some of the same teachers. He grew up in a similarly large house as mine, which I’ve been in, not that many streets away from me. He enjoyed many of the same luxuries as me growing up and went to a better college than me. I can’t speak for him, but, as someone who has had not too dramatically of a different lifestyle, I can pretty safely say this post was written from a position of ignorance of what the first-hand inescapable day-to-day reality of a rough life situation really is. If you write this post and think its even remotely close to as reflective of the issues of my generation as Ross’s piece, then it’s just evidence you haven’t had enough exposure outside the upper-class culture you’re critiquing to be in any sort of position to lecture a generation on how to live their lives. Increased income inequality in the U.S. has furthered this lack of understanding. But none of that really matters because the article got a lot of click-throughs.

That’s the worst part about it. Propaganda like this Huff Po piece allows people of a certain demographic a comically simplified, palatable explanation to tidy up a crippling issue. The article’s only real function is for people who don’t enjoy doing the work of critically thinking to read it, digest it easily, feel self-righteous anger which they couldn’t previously articulate or know which direction to spit it towards, share it on social media so they can look like they have a handle on how to solve the problems with culture, feel good some more, and then forget about it. And certainly, most definitely, not delve into Ross’s article because that one doesn’t have a tidy bow on it. It’s morbid and begs you to move past your complacency. You don’t get to feel validated by just reading it. You actually have to do something.

Canclini’s statements on pages 90-91 of “Identities as a Multimedia Spectacle” regarding culture evolving into a post-national identity phase got me curious about what cultural authenticity’s value is going to be in the future. He explains, “Subject to fewer restrictions and greater speedup, the circulation of people, capital, and messages brings us into daily contact with many cultures; consequently our identity can no longer be defined by an exclusive belonging to a national community” (91). How much harder will it be to find content influenced and produced purely by one culture? How long is it going to take for this future to take a more thorough phase of effect?

We discussed this issue in class through the lens of African American culture. As it has been commodified and sold to the white suburban mainstream, the next frontier of taste making is, as it relates to a commodity like music, to search for who or what has subverted external pressure while embodying hip hop’s core values. Thus, the product is inherently the same – just with the added injection of the appearance of authenticity.

There is now a space for an array of brands to financially leverage this desire for authenticity. A strong example of this is Vice Media (http://www.vice.com/en_us), which, with its trademark edginess, has achieved major success in recent years, expanding to a show on HBO and receiving a 5% investment from 21st Century Fox. Vice’s success, and cultural impact, is a direct response to culture’s lack of authenticity in this day and age. It’s the company a scholar of Canclini may build.

With Vice in mind, it was interesting reading angieelee’s post (https://cci13.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/cultural-nomadism-and-global-spectacles/) about how the Korean ethos of the Gangnam Style video was ripped away as it gained mass global exposure. That video is a Korean cultural artifact that was mainstream-ized to make it sellable. Vice’s content is the other side of the coin. That is, it’s very culturally immersive to give it as little mainstream encoding as possible, in an effort to then sell it to the mainstream as authentic. When trying to think about mainstream consumer demands, it’s fascinating there’s such a desire for both extremes on the spectrum simultaneously. It’s a possible sign that the desire to identify with ‘hip,’ ‘edgy,’ and ‘authentic’ is rising dramatically as culture becomes less and less those three things. What better way to satisfy the guilt of watching Gangnam Style thirty-five times than checking out a Vice documentary on North Korea?

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I’m the quintessential technology over-user so the item that probably most substantially affects my day and lifestyle is my iPhone. I, of course, use it for communication like anyone else but I’m also a major user of iCal as a daily planner, iTunes/Podcasts for transit and a handful of other apps for every-day needs. Any demand I can fulfill on my iPhone is done on it so much of my focus can just be directed in one place.

The main way I’m witnessed publicly using my iPhone is probably while walking down a sidewalk, texting or checking emails, interspersed with glances up for the street or a pole. I probably make negative impressions on lots of strangers because of this – and I can’t totally blame them – but I’m highly advanced at navigating the sidewalk while looking down and have never had an incident to date. I’m also an aggressive street crosser, which means I cross the street as soon as I can, so this practice mixed with my iPhone use may terrify an occasional bystander.

The way I anticipate a heavy iPhone user like myself being judged is that I have a disconnect with my natural surroundings and am probably the kind of person who can’t “live in the moment.” Although I fully understand how the practice of too often being immersed in a digital screen could be attributed to a more superficial character, I’m an anomaly to this. I have little connection to pop culture and many other mainstream influences; I despise the notion that it’s okay for meaningful communication to be done over a device; And sometimes I love leaving my phone at home and going on a nature walk. Technology is such a fixture of culture and daily life practices now that heavy iPhone users today can be a far-reaching array of people who don’t fit the mold.

P.S. It’s hard to take a good picture of your iPhone using just a mirror and your iPhone.

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