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WHAT’S EATING GILBERT & GEORGE?
By Phil Thornton
Gilbert - Vice Principle
You can judge any magazine by its advertisers; who is this aimed at, what do are they trying to sell us? With free magazines such as Vice, the power and influence of the advertiser is even more apparent because they’re basically paying for everything; all the production costs are dependent on getting those all important corporate dollars into the bank account. In this respect free mags have an inbuilt advantage over those that actually require the customer to make a purchase; they are disposable yet visible. Like discarded Metros on a Virgin Pendolino, the likes of Vice and One Week To Live can afford to be given away in clothes and record shops because they can tell potential and existing advertisers that x million potential consumers have at least browsed through their pages before lashing it with the KFC bargain bucket.
Vice has become an international publishing phenomena because it taps into the naughties attitude of moral and aesthetic ambivalence, striking a balance between the trivial and the serious, the stupid and the clever, the offensive and the rewarding. Down syndrome fashion models; brave or abusive? Who cares? Not the advertisers for sure. No, as long as their slogan is getting across, then all the rest is bullshit. So who are Vice (UK)’s advertisers?
In the recent Fear Issue:
Fenchurch - let the light in!
Addict - Always First !
Osiris - creating a new vision amongst surroundings
Vans - the original since 1966
Onitsuka Tiger - karaoke is not our national anthem
Addict - addicto - mo deep, mo phunky!
Criminal Clothing - criminal?
I could go on and on and on…Bench…..Gola…..Penfield….Dickies….sundry other vaguely skatey clobber brands and shit looking computer games adverts. Half the content is devoted to various advertisers but the RIGHT advertisers yeah? Advertisers such has American Apparel who boast about their ethically sound production methods - no far east sweat shops etc - yet who constantly feature underage looking underwear models in their campaigns. Perfect for Vice then. A hint of politically incorrect decadence aimed at students who long ago gave up meaningful political dissent in favour of vague gestural posing.
So let’s have a Hamas V Fatah feature with like cute Palestinians and a piece on wounded and mutilated British soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and photos of kids deformed by agent orange and wow, we’re like making a point yeah? War stinks! War’s like wrong on soooo many levels. We just wanna skate maaan and like do our thing.
Got that Addict? Fenchurch? Criminal? Bench? That’s your customer base right there daddio, the non-committal, too lazy to be cynical, economically, emotionally, politically and morally detached young men and women of the 21st Century post-ideological West. No wonder the Taliban can beat these saps. Great turbans too! Make a great fashion spread that yah?
Vice likes to crack on that it’s some kind of fanzine. It’s not like any fanzine I’ve ever seen or been involved in. Vice is a business model, a very effective one and an often entertaining and enlightening read but it’s not a fanzine, it’s a glossy international fashion advertorial. Spike Jonez gives the project the kind of trendy kudos so important to the corporate clients required to bankroll such an expensive ’free’ product and various former NME and music hacks with names like Piers look after the UK content side o’things.
OK Vice isn’t aimed at Swine readers, it’s aimed at those whoppers we love to sneer at in their Bench and Fenchurch jackets, Vans and ‘retro’ Gola trabs, the very people who ensure Subway never go bust and T4 will never go short of viewers. Young people! But not any old young people, not the type we know, no we mean middle class young people. The very people who end up owning labels like Fenchurch, promoting nights featuring The Young Knives, producing programmes such as T4 and writing magazines such as Vice.
George - Lifestyles of the poor and impressionable
Mastercuts ‘life…style’ CDs are a proper bargain. 3 CDs for a flim or seven sovs tops, and not just all the obvious tunes you’ve heard a zillion times either. The only thing wrong with them in fact and the reason I covered up my Chilled Lounge (Essential Chilled Beats From The Chillout Lounge - OK, that‘s enough Chills there daddio) comp in my Asda basket was the artwork. Oh no! First it was Hed Kandi/Fierce Angels/Bar Grooves bollocks and now it’s on the front cover to ‘ethical lifestyle’ magazines called New Consumer. You know the dance’ slinkily seductive feline babes in bikinis languorously sunbathing or driving powerboats or sipping champers. It’s what all of us aspire to innit? Life style! Life. Style. A style of life that possibly only 0.1% of us will ever experience, the P. Diddy lifestyle, the Sultan Of Brunei lifestyle, the Prince Harry lifestyle. But there’s the carrot, there’s the ideal, there’s the pathetic erotic utopian dream world. This sensual vision sustained the clubbing world during much of the 90s when Ibiza reclaimed its position as the world’s numero uno fleshpot thanks to various so-called ’superclubs’ and the porno-fetishist shenanigans of Manumission. Ofcourse for 99.9% of clubbers what it actually amounts to is coked up nail technicians sucking off third division footballers in the bogs of the local funky house emporium.
The artist responsible for selling this phoney female fantasy is Jason Brooks and he appears to do very well for himself, providing prints and posters of his designs to, let’s see, er, nail technicians and third division footballers to hang on their Alex Curran themed bedroom walls. Brook’s ouevre is not that dissimilar to that of Dave Storry’s aka The Mirror‘s ‘Scorer’ cartoon or even that of The Sun’s 2D doggin’ double act, George & Lynne. Flimsy wank fodder for undernourished teens. If that’s the style of life your lifestyle aspires to, maybe you need to take a cold shower and get a grip on reality.
Gilbert - Northern Rocks and Saudi Cocks
The capitalist myth has finally been exploded thanks to New Labour’s cowardice in the face of economic incompetence and corporate corruption. First Northern Rock are bailed out by Alistair Darling fearing a run on other banks and building societys, exposing the lie that the markets govern themselves. If you want capitalism, then have it, fair and square, if people want the brutality of a ’free and open market‘ let them have it without trade restrictions, imports and export duties, government subsidies and artificially created trading blocks such as the EU and let’s see who wins out.
But of course the vested interests of ‘western capitalism’ don’t want that at all because they know that those pesky emerging economies would then conquer all, so they raise fresh scares such as ’global warming’ to keep the Chinese and the Indians at bay. There’s too much invested in pseudo-capitalism to risk another Wall Street crash, so when the stock market takes a battering as it has done with the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the slush funds put aside by governments to prevent all out panic and collapse are pumped in to keep things afloat.
As the Chinese are discovering there’s only one way to beat the loaded capitalist system and that’s to play the west at their own game, out capitalist the capitalists. The US may have crowed about defeating the ‘Evil Empire’ of Communism but it’s now finding it ever harder and harder to sustain its cold war spending without depending on massive amounts of foreign debt to fund its failing economy. The USA is finding controlling a political and economic empire much more difficult than a cultural empire. Put simply, they’re not up to the job, blundering about the middle east, opening up old and fresh wounds in their desperation to cling onto their fast fading power to coerce nations into line by threats both military and economic.
Iran wants nuclear power? Act tough! North Korea explodes a nuclear device. Talk conciliation. Iraq tortures citizens. Invade. Turkey tortures citizens. Let them in the EU. Pakistan and Burma crack down on pro-democracy movements, shrug your shoulders and tick them off, Afghanistan and Palestine elect Islamist regimes, supress, bomb and starve them. This is the two-faced hypocrisy of the ’west’ that drives angry young muslims into the arms of al Qaeda.
The Saudi King’s recent visit only underlined the depth of this charade to uphold democracy and human rights in foreign climes as a cover for preserving economic interests. The Queen fulfilled her proper constitutional role; pimping for the City and sucking up to the very kind of militant hardline undemocratic despot that only other undemocratically appointed heads of state really understand. Sorry about that Bae bribery nonsense your eminence, please buy these lovely fighter planes and we‘ll forget about the rape victim being whipped and jailed eh? Just sign the dotted line, how many whores will you need tonight your majesty, and if you could just sign here…..how much cocaine and heroin will your entourage require, yes we can see to that if you can just sign one more time here and here…..there, all done and dusted. Now, those British oil workers you fitted up and tortured, let’s hear nothing more about it eh?
When New Labour came to power they seriously spoke of something called an ‘ethical foreign policy.’ It didn’t take em long to ditch that laudable but utterly naïve concept. The world of global capitalism is corrupt and stained with blood and spunk at every level. If these cunts were ever honest about that for one second maybe we’d actually believe a word they said.
George - Posh Boy Hobbyists Pt 2
First it was Bear Grylls, Ray Mears, Bruce Parry and all those overgrown boy scouts going native with various savages, heathens and fuzzy wuzzies. Now it’s Ben’s Zoo, following neatly on from Jimmy’s Farm. (What next Noah’s Ark?) Here’s the official blurb:
“When Dartmoor Zoo was put up for sale, along with its 219 animals and a team of keepers in tow, Ben and his family leaped at the chance to redevelop its run-down buildings and lacklustre attractions. Plain crazy or free-spirited visionary? You decide.”
Hey, anyone coulda done it! With a few million to spare and a BBC documentary crew in tow, with various inspirational BBC spin-off book deals and guaranteed free BBC publicity courtesy of various news and magazines programmes, chat shows and radio plugs.
Just as so-called ’heroes’ and ’explorers’ such as Ranulph Fiennes and Ellen MacArthur are simply poshoes pursuing their hobbies under the guise of ’pushing back the boundaries of human endurance’ (complete with satellite tracking, millions in sponsorship and lucrative corporate opportunities), so the likes of Ben Mee (Me Me Me!) and Jimmy Doherty (Doh Doh Doh!) are paraded as ’visionaries’ that ’young entrepreneurs’ from the Dragons Den/The Apprentice school of thought can emulate.
However, it’ll be a bit harder to pull in funding and backers without friendly TV commissioners, old pals like Jamie Oliver pulling a few strings, wealthy and indulgent parents and easily pleased bank managers to fall back on. It’s easy to see why such programmes get made; someone at a BBC bigwigs dinner party mentions this kerrazy, ‘eccentric’ character their son used to room with at Bellend Academy and guess what?
He’s opening a nouvelle cuisine soup kitchen where the tramps and crack heads are the chefs
Buying a farm where only GOOD OLD BRITISH pigs/sheep/cattle/onions/carrots/spuds are killed/grown
Building an ark where EVERY MALE AND FEMALE SPECIES IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (mammals only) will be housed to preserve the world from a massive flood God will send because he’s pissed that England didn’t get into the Euro 2008.
OK but is he kinda charming, kinda good looking and telegenic and does he have a lovely supportive wife/partner and is he kinda loveably oddball but really quite ruthless when needs be and passionate about BRITAIN? He is! When do we start shooting?
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