Part of the fun of watching HBO's Succession, which is arguably the best show on TV right now, is trying to parse out how its characters and plot points correspond to real life. Logan Roy, the patriarch at the helm of Waystar Royco, is essentially a cross between Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone. The right-leaning, democracy-poisoning ATN is a pretty transparent dig at Fox News. And Gil Eavis is a dead ringer for Bernie Sanders. As we've learned more and more about Vaulter, the edgy new media brand at the center of this week's episode, it's hard to shake the feeling that the company is... uh... basically just VICE?
From the unhinged headlines it publishes, to the Cool Open-Floor Office Space it occupies, to the brash founder who runs it, there's a lot about Vaulter that hits disturbingly close to home. Faced with a vast number of parallels between this fictional media disruptor and our current place of employ (at least until this article gets some of us fired), it's time to ask a tough question: Did Succession own the shit out of us?
Yes, You Dingus—Vaulter Is Clearly VICE
Vaulter's office is a slick, modern/industrial space filled with big glass-walled meeting rooms; so is VICE's. Vaulter has its own in-house honey bee farm; we have our own rooftop vegetable garden. Vaulter had its logo made into a giant, expensive-looking neon sign and hung it in the lobby; so did VICE.
Vaulter has this photo of a weed farmer on the wall outside its boardroom:
I'm pretty sure we used to have... the exact same one outside ours???
Vaulter's headlines read like something you'd come up with using the VICE Headline Generator or, you know, by throwing a dildo at a wall. “These Old Photos of Soviet Dental Schools Are Peak Dystopia Porn," "Meet the World’s Richest People Trafficker (He’s a Surprisingly Nice Guy)," and "Wait, Is Every Taylor Swift Lyric Secretly Marxist?” feel right at home with, say, "The Emerging Fetish of Laying Alien Eggs Inside Yourself."
Every other word Vaulter's founder Lawrence Yee says is an expletive (e.g.: "we got face-fucked"), and he calls Waystar's leadership a "bunch of bloated dinosaurs" before hitting Kendall with a vicious "fuck you, daddy's boy" in the series premiere. Sounds familiar, no?
Also: Vaulter starts with a V. Coincidence??? I think not.
Er, Wait—Maybe It's Actually Gawker?
It's impossible to ignore how much Vault_er_ sounds like Gawk_er_, and in a lot of ways, Vaulter's plot line mirrors Gawker's IRL trajectory more closely than VICE's. Both Vaulter and Gawker's employees have publicly terrible relationships with their corporate bosses, and both companies got completely dismantled by vengeful billionaires.
Additionally: Gawker (which has since been recast into into G/O Media) is home to an infamous device known as The Big Board: a screen that displays each day's top-performing stories, ranked by the number of people currently reading them. Vaulter has the same thing:
It's also worth noting that Cord Jefferson and Will Tracy, who worked at Gawker and the Onion, respectively, both write for Succession. Suspicious!
Ah Shit, Hold Up—Maybe It's BuzzFeed
The argument, here, is almost entirely based on Vaulter's headlines. Who else would publish "Someone Is Making Soap Shaped Like Jerry Seinfeld’s Face, Because White People," or "5 Reasons Why Drinking Milk on the Toilet Is Kind of a Game-Changer?"
There's a strong case to be made on behalf of all three companies as to what Vaulter's IRL counterpart really is—not to mention Vulture, which sounds a lot like Vaulter, or Mic, which allegedly laid off almost its entire staff to break up a burgeoning union. But at the end of the day, calling a clear-cut winner (read: loser) in this fight doesn't matter. What does matter is how depressingly, terrifyingly well Vaulter mirrors pretty much every digital rag in the industry.
In short: The correct choice, here, is D.
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