In 1994, a trio of countercultural Canadians teamed up to launch what would eventually become Vice, the famously edgy publication that has prided itself on rustling as many jimmies as possible with its purposefully provocative content for over 25 years.
While it started as a niche magazine, Vice managed to flawlessly adapt to the rise of the internet and dominated the world of online media at the start of the previous decade with the help of the hipsters it deployed to war zones for documentaries and articles that tended to follow the “I Did [Something] While On [Illicit Substance]” model that seemed to work out incredibly well for the media company, which was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017.
When I first moved to New York City, Vice was operating at Peak Cool and had a cultural cache that attracted a legion of Carhartt-clad employees who were willing to overlook being criminally underpaid and dealing with the fairly toxic work environment that was the product of its “we don’t play by the rules” ethos so they could say “I work at Vice” to try to impress people at bars in Bushwick.
However, things eventually came crumbling down as Vice slowly transformed into a parody of itself thanks to the clichély on-brand content it’s continued to pump out—including a story that was published earlier in January concerning a man who claimed he had his family jewels held for ransom after hackers managed to commandeer the WiFi used to control the cage he’d locked them in.
While this is apparently a thing that can actually happen, it turns out the story was dreamed up by Australian comedian Lewis Spears, who recently released an incredibly entertaining video that documented how he dreamed up the fake news and managed to convince Vice to run with it complete with a recording of the interview with the person who wrote the article (which has since been updated with a “We regret the mistake” disclaimer.)
I know the word “legend” gets thrown around far too much in this day and age, but I think Lewis Spears managed to earn it with this.