This post is part of VICE's 15th anniversary series, presented by VANS
2002 is one year on from 2001, which is the year George W. Bush conspired to bring down the western economy and global stability by destroying two large buildings in the world’s most important city, New York. It was when shit dun changed, especially for a burgeoning media minnow called VICE, which was whoring its way to the top of the youth media food chain. In 2002 it launched its UK operation, and fifteen long years down the line you can now go on Facebook and tell everyone how much you think it has fallen off on like, ten different pages; for instance the food one, Munchies, or the music one, Noisey.
VICE isn’t the only thing that has changed drastically since the year Jacob Sartorius was spewed singing into the world, there’s been loads of stuff. We’ve lost a lot of things in that time. Take me for example: I used to love going clubbing and hanging out with my friends and laughing, whereas now I only like drinking and doing cocaine alone, playing video games and having a little cry. You lose a lot of innocence in that time.
Anywho, let’s take a look at this In Memoriam for the last 15 on VICE’s crystal anniversary, and perhaps take stock of whether anything we’ve lost is actually meaningful or useful in any way. Let’s start with an easy one:
Now, unless you’re a very stupid frat boy, a Dutch person or a Morris dancer, the use of black-or-any-other-race face is pretty much roundly considered uncool these days. You can tell because comedians who have engaged in it in the past are now constantly retroactively admonished for it because they thought it was cool and now it turns out it absolutely is not cool at all. Take egg-headed comedian Matt Lucas, who said “If I could go back and do Little Britain again …I wouldn’t play black characters.” If only someone had told him before that playing an Thai mail order bride called Ting Tong Maka Dang-Dang wasn’t OK at the time! Hindsight is 20/20 eh?
From its grand opening until about 2010, the internet was a place you could post about and say totally fucked up shit and pretty much get away with it. This was predominantly due to its strong emphasis on monikers and dual identity. While this still exists and is what gives many racists their big leg up online, most people now want everyone to know who they are, so when they tweet some vague non sequitur about "trannies" when they’re 14 and try to make something of themselves in the public eye, you best believe someone will find it and tell them repeatedly to kill themselves over it. It’s made things a lot safer for everyone.
Seriously, does anyone on the planet still read like, interviews with bands and stuff? Why am I gonna read some guy from Give-A-Fucksville, Ohio’s review of some record I won’t even care about next week? Does anyone outside of major record label PR departments actually care what Pitchfork scores things get? Even Anthony Fantano has had to start waxing crud about politics and safe spaces to get a few clicks these days. To be honest, it’s completely mad it was even a thing in the first place.
Gone are the days when chubby faced oiks would get sent home from school midway through their turkey twizzlers for emulating the hairstyle of Mr. David Robert Joseph Beckham. People just don’t go into Toni & Guy with a magazine cut out of a celebrity anymore, everyone just has a quite generic haircut. For the men it’s generally some riff on the greasy Arsenal player look or hipster Mad Men Nazi, and for women it’s just generic bobs, curls and straights. Closest thing now is when fashion girls shave their heads, but even that has become so commonplace it's not even cool anymore.
I don’t care how many times The Courteeners sell-out Milton Keynes Bowl or some provincial colosseum of crap, you can never convince me that indie still bangs in the UK. This year’s NME tour featured groups called "Blossoms", "Cabbage" and some fucker called "Roy Wynne". Hardly the smacky, cokey highs of Libertines b2b Strokes is it? Indie just isn’t sexy at all anymore, and it was only ever mildly sexy at its peak, if you ignored all the dickheads wearing teapots round their necks.
The drug briefly known as plant food was by far the shittest drug with the smelliest vibe we’ve ever collectively had the misfortune to be into. It was very much our Bath Salts, though it never caused anyone to eat someone’s face off (as far as we know). Mephedrone has now been consigned to the big drug graveyard in the sky, AKA three days into a chemsex party in an unassuming flat in Kennington.
USING "HIPSTER" CORRECTLY
We wrote about the death of the hipster a while back, and the terms meaning has swamped ever greater into nothingness since then. The archetype of the hipster barely truthfully existed when it was actually a relevant cultural reference – who actually had a portable record player and tucked a shirt into shorts? Now it’s just what normie people call anything that isn’t drinking Fosters and playing Xbox at Five Guys. It’s a term that has been bastardised beyond repair, much like…
USING "TROLL" CORRECTLY
A troll was once quite an innocent thing. All it meant was just upsetting someone who cared about something deeply (a carelord, if you will), by telling them that thing is shit and lame, even if that’s not what your opinion is. Now a troll is someone who tells an orphan that their recently deceased parents were probably paedophiles on Snapchat. It’s not a mark of a wily debater hellbent on chaos, it’s just someone who wants to make random people cry by prodding sharp acrylic nails in their most open wound.
In many ways we thought the banter renaissance was on the way with the dawn of The Lad Bible and UniLad and various other outlets for teenage boys (earth’s funniest creatures) to let loose. Unfortunately what it actually meant was more basic and unfunny puerility that would make even Andrew Dice Clay reach for the Tolstoy and bone up on something that isn’t "fanny and cum". The Inbetweeners have a lot to answer for.
I hate to sound like John Wayne or something, but I really feel that as a whole we’ve certainly lost a bit of ourselves in the past 15 years. I like to think that the moment ex-Beckham affairist Rebecca Loos brought a swine to completion on the telly was when we collectively became such irredeemable fame hungry freaks. Grown adults say they fancy the kids on Stranger Things like it’s normal. People "like" celebrities' Instagrams as if they’ll ever get noticed by them. They do reaction videos to unboxings. Where has the dignity gone? What happened to sitting in a room listening to the radio and searching hopefully for lumps in your breasts and testes so that the blackness may finally come to swallow you up?
America was just about acceptable in the 90s, getting nigh on unacceptable in the noughties, but now has ramped its shitness up to 11 and its past the point of no return. People always rag on North Korea or Australia or South Africa as being the worst country but let’s be real, Aus and SA aren’t even that bad anymore and North Korea is just outchea for the nuclear banter. The United States of Fucking Everything Up is by far the most egregious country on the planet. Their food is shit, their TV is hit and miss, they all love James Corden and John Oliver, they don’t have passports and they all have that horrible thing where when you talk to them it feels like you’re talking on a TV delay even though they’re right in front of you. A nation full of glassy-eyed acid flashback robots who pronounce "au gratin" as "oh grotten". Fucking Idiots.
This is probably because I’m an adult now but even get the feeling head lice just aren’t a thing anymore? Also other forms of lice, like pubic lice. I’d wager if you went into your group chat with all your lame mates right now and asked them if any of them have ever had crabs they’d say no. Who the fuck gets crabs anymore? It’s not even a reference I think you can make without people asking you if you were a rifleman in the Boer War.
No, I don’t mean some sociopath with face tattoos giving their song "666FXCKMYM0MonXANNIEZ666" away on SoundCloud, I mean getting the whole Elton John back catalogue on SoulSeek. Was a time where you could own the world (of music) but now everyone’s pussied out and bought Spotify subscriptions like a bunch of fucking undercover cops. I used to think 99p for a song was a price too high, now I’m flinging coins at iTunes like I’m a bad patron at a seedy strip club.
Cyber sex in the future will mean something different. It will mean hooking your cock and ball apparatus up to some sort of iCloud and thrusting your winkle into a big USB port while a room full of sex workers somewhere in Slough tug at various electro-dildos to simulate a toss job. Long gone are the days when you could happily go into a chat room, find a man pretending to be a woman and talk in asterisks about which item of clothing you’re removing, which nipple you’re prodding with which appendage. I don’t know about the Peppa Pig generation, but * takes bra off * still gets me rock hard to this day.
FAITH IN OUR FELLOW MAN
I used to think we were all essentially the same guy. We all like a pint, we all love our mums, we all hate commuting etc, but it turns out we’re all different. Not only that, we’re so different that our differences enrage one another, and all we can think about constantly is how much we want to kill everyone who doesn’t think the same as us about Brexit or Strictly Come Dancing or drone strikes or football or Nike or Black Lives Matter or trans people. All we are is puce, murderous bags of fucking endless rage towards others, whether those people are real or just fabrications consisting of media ephemera and bad tweets by worse people. Thank the good Lord Jehovah that you have VICE to guide the way. Here’s to the next 15! Huzzah!