advertisement Dances With Vice’s VBS.TV, Sub Pop Records in a Way Lou Dobbs Would Never Approve Of

This is CNN?

Handsome Furs

(Above: Handsome Furs, Photo Liam Maloney)


Either CNN is getting insanely hip or VBS.TV, the video arm of gonzo-hip magazine and lifestyle brand Vice, and SubPop records, the Seattle label that launched Nirvana, have grown way up.

The two arbiters of all things rocking and youthful figuratively hoisted old man Turner atop a throng of music fans Tuesday night at Brooklyn music venue Public Assembly so he could crowd surf to the sounds of Handsome Furs, a Canadian electro-punk duo, the side project of slightly more popular indie outfit Wolf Parade front man Dan Boeckner and his partner Alexei Perry Cox.

The Furs are featured in the segment “Indie Asia: On tour with Handsome Furs.” Right now, the VBS.TV on microsite is offering “The Vice Guide to Liberia.” The new “VBS.TV on” will hold a prominent spot on CNN’s newly redesigned site and will show up on the CNN app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. A new report airs each Wednesday.

There may never have been a stranger pairing of media outlets: CNN, “The Most Trusted Name in News,” and Vice, which once published “The Vice Guide to Shagging Muslims” and “Bukkake On MY Face: Welcome to the Ancient Tradition of the Japanese Facial.” The mag’s most prominent feature online at press time was called “Old Porno Tapes.”

(Thank god, Lou Dobbs isn’t around to see this.)


To be fair, though, Vice is also the group behind the critically acclaimed “Heavy Metal in Baghdad.” They’ve helped launch the careers of game-changing artists, and they’re pretty much one of the last bastions of no-holds barred, occasionally slanted, often participatory, warts-and-all reporting that makes Anderson Cooper look like Larry King.

As partied with VBS, Sub Pop, and the Handsome Furs, the even smaller side project of a splendidly indie band that sold fewer units than Lady Gaga moves in a week, CNN senior vice president and general manager of KC Estenson seemed perfectly pleased to put the network’s might behind a new generation of newsmakers (and potentially siphon off a sip or two of hipster juice). Not even the Handsome Furs, with their unnaturally hyper stage antics Tuesday night, struck Estenson as an overtly odd pairing.

“I think of it through the lens of authenticity,” Estenson said. “CNN’s roots are in rebellion. Doing 24-hour news is rebellion.”

Vice founder Shane Smith offered a bit more candid outlook. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said to the crowd of a few hundred in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “Why the fuck are we doing something with CNN?” He went on to say that he was flattered to be partnered with the news organization, and as he spoke a press release went out to media outlets, in which he stated: “The ‘Hipsters’ Bible’ hooking up with the World’s News Leader is a bit odd, but as our company began to evolve and cover stories around the globe, CNN was our first and only choice for a partner. In a world of hyper-partisan opinion-led ‘news,’ CNN’s credibility and reach put it in a class by itself. We couldn’t be more excited with a partner unless it was Jimi Hendrix (nod to all the Baby Boomers out there) joining our rock and roll band.”

About the author

Tyler Gray is the former Editorial Director of Fast Company and co-author of the book The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel and Buy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out in fall 2014. He previously authored The Hit Charade for HarperCollins and has written for The New York Times, SPIN, Blender, Esquire, and others