Friday, April 5, 2013

Vice Debuts on HBO Tonight at 11 p.m.

VICE Debuts on HBO
Friday April 5, 11 p.m.
VICE, the ballsy fringe media company out of MontrĂ©al that has become a media behemoth, launches its first television series tonight.  It’s a half hour international news magazine focusing on under-the-radar stories that can’t be accessed by mainstream media.  Bill Maher executive produces.
VICE founder Shane Smith leads a band of vagabond reporters who thrive on the dangerous situations they encounter and manage to pull off coups that would leave network news gasping.  It is riveting viewing at times, dangerous, ugly, and real.  And best of all, it’s highly personal. 

VICE pulled off a coup recently, sending Dennis Rodman to Pyonyang, North Korea to meet tiny dictator Kim Jong-Un.  They hit it off.  It was a basketball political manoeuvre of the oddest sort and will be featured on the series soon.
Tonight, a world primer for comfy, smug North Americans.  The first episode features the gun culture of the Philippines, and the children trained as suicide bombers inside the Taliban.  VICE gets up close and personal with guns and the Taliban.
The political culture of the Philippines is deadly.  1200 assassinations have been carried out in the last few years.  It’s a dangerous calling for anyone who might wish to challenge the corruption that permeates every aspect of life there, and yet there are aspiring politicians who keep trying.
These brave men are fully bulletproofed and cognisant that they could be attacked around the next corner.  Guns are “banned” around election time but that’s inspired a booming backyard gun making industry.   VICE watches a third generation of gun artisans cobble them powerful models from scrap metal.  In some areas, 70% of the population owns a weapon.
The second story concerns the growing number of boys 6 and up, recruited into the Taliban in Afghanistan and brainwashed into strapping explosives to themselves and setting them off in enemy territory.  These smiling, giggling, carousing children are told the bombs only blow outwards so there is no chance that they will be hurt. 
VICE gets inside on the children’s training camp and meets a friendly, grandfatherly leader who says his boys do it because they don’t know any better and they are not afraid.  Its good business.   

Next stop a face-to face interview with of one of the highest officials of the Taliban in his Kabul apartment.  Smith is conducting the interview and is visibly shaken.   Who wouldn’t be?
The next episode features a stare-down in Kashmir, the place where Pakistan and India’s mutual hatred simmers hottest.  The dangerous war that’s been in place since the Partition shows no signs of slowing down and both sides are threatening nuclear annihilation.

There’s a chilling story of three Noth Korean girls, so discouraged by life – and death – in their homeland that they risk their lives and their families’, by escaping.  It’s a long, twisting road through China to Laos that must be navigated in secret in the dark.  From Laos they will head to South Korea and hopefully safety. 

VICE goes along out of North Korea and to South Korea where a sad fate awaits the girls.  Pastor Kim, a local Catholic activist puts everything on the line to save refugees fleeing Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
 VICE is a chilling, riveting and important documentary news series that will shed light on situations we couldn’t imagine.  As reporters, the VICE folks are green.  They can be repetitive, use their hands and arms to do the talking, use poor grammar and usage but you have to hand it to them, they are passionate and unimaginably brave.   I’d like to see mainstream American news reporters do what they’re doing.  They don’t have the resources of the nets, but they do have the juice.

I’m hooked.

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