“Let’s try doing some gonzo-style pieces, except bougie.”

I’m pretty sure that was the gist of the pitch at Vice that must have sealed Oobah Butler’s recent fate as he descended into garbage-person life.

Vice has experience with this kind of garbage-person coverage, so it made sense for them to recommit to the area.

I just wish they didn’t.

The internet is barely even decadent or depraved

A man of great stature once wrote about the Kentucky Derby. At least part of that man’s great stature came from, essentially, being a madman:

“He maced the restaurant!” insisted Steadman. “It was a terrible thing to do. I mean, we got maced too. The whole damn place got maced… It was the first time I realized: ‘Oh, God — this is not an ordinary person. This is somebody that does things with a paranoiac fever.‘”

Hunter S. Thompson was a madman with a purpose, though. He took the confusion and chaos of mid-20th century America head-on, at tremendous personal risk. Literally every kind of risk—physical, emotional, legal, professional, and all the etceteras.

I’d say this was a spirit—a work ethic, really—that we lost, but I’m not sure that’s really true.

Sacha Baron Cohen put himself in so much harm’s way for his films that you can’t even necessarily keep track of it all while watching. To pull a quote from his excellent interview with Marc Maron:

At one point, I see a chair flying in—it’s a metal chair… And I’m lying on my back and I’m thinking, ‘If I hold my co-star tightly, I can move left and right and dodge the chairs.’ But eventually after two chairs, I hear, “go go go!” And the rule was once you hear “go go go”, you have to go…

But what we didn’t think about was that we’d left the crew there with 20 ultimate-fighter guys who didn’t know what was going on, and were really pissed at the crew, and about 200 people. And in the end, it turned into this riot. I think it took about 40 cops to march into there to rescue the crew.

Y’all out here still taking advances, huh?

The stuff from Vice really bothers me because it subverts everything that’s great about good gonzo-style coverage (be it journalism or humor).

In real gonzo there’s real risk, mirroring both the absurdity and danger of actual life. The creators taking that risk is ultimately what serves as the strongest rebuke of the bourgeois complacency, status obsession, and self-hatred that gonzo is essentially tailor made to fight.

Vice’s stuff doesn’t have real risk; the writers are only ever looking at the equivalent of a trespassing charge at worst, and it’s hard to not laugh that kind of thing off when you’re on assignment for a media organization—or if you’re just a person living in Baltimore.

Instead, the Vice writing ultimately deifies the confines of “well-adjusted” society. No one gets to write about how their friend got them into a fashion week after-party, but “sneaking in” is edgy and emphasizes how exclusive those events are. I’m also glad a young white man is finally taking a stand to show how hard it is to get arrested. Seriously, I’m linking again because that’s an actual fucking article these people ran.

I mean… I guess it’s a paycheck, right?

There's a disconnect / we don't call that money over here The story behind this photo is one I’ll explain… some other time.