Site of their demolished practice space and mourned

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site of their demolished practice space, and mourned the way that their lives had unrav-elled during the war. “It sucks, dude,” one of the band members tells Alvi, displaying asurprising command of American slang. “We’re talking here about a free country. . . .Where’s the freedom?” The film ends in Syria, where the band members reunited asrefugees. It premièred at the Toronto International Film Festival, in 2007, and receivedstellar reviews. The Times called it “an intrepid, unlikely and altogether splendid feat ofD.I.Y. reportage.” Alvi told me that it also crystallized Vice’s brand of “journalism-news-entertainment.” He said, “Our video content, when done well, is one part each of thosethings.”The videos that Vice produces every week are not always like “Heavy Metal inBaghdad”—or like “Vice” on HBO. With endless space to fill on YouTube, and flush bud-gets from sponsors, Vice’s content runs the gamut, from bland to fascinating. One day, af-ter talking with Smith in the Bear Room, I sat in on a “content meeting,” in which the edi-tors for each of Vice’s verticals went over new features. Smith, who had another meetingto attend, said that, in general, he prefers being “a brand artist” to handling day-to-daymanagement. “I’m only really good at two things,” he said. “I’m good at content”—film-ing documentaries—“and deals.”The meeting had the look of a film-school crit session: plaid shirts, week-old beards. Manyof the staffers wore gold rings, resembling brass knuckles, that read “VICE.” There was noclear boss, and it was hard to determine how the content was judged. Smith likes to saythat there are three criteria for a Vice story: “It has to be simple, it has to have a hook, andit has to have a punch in the face.” Ryan Duffy told me, “It’s the sniff test: Would I tell mybuddy about it in a bar? Yes? Cool.”Rocco Castoro, the thirty-one-year-old editor of Vice’s print magazine and of Vice.com,discussed its unusually sober issue devoted to the war in Syria, which featured graphicphotographs of the carnage, and two first-person accounts from twenty-something re-porters, who had embedded with the Free Syrian Army. Alex Pasternack, the editor of
4/3/13 10:22 PMLizzie Widdicombe: The Vice Guide to the World : The New YorkerPage 14 of 18Motherboard, who had unkempt curly hair and chunky eyeglasses, discussed a story ondrones, which he described as “a feel-good piece on unmanned flying aircrafts.” AndyCapper, a director, played a clip from “Noisey Jamaica,” a ten-part YouTube series on Ja-maican dancehall music, which he described as “an unscripted Jamaican ‘Jersey Shore.’ ”Capper, who is British and has a scar on his face from being hit with a bottle in a bar fight,added that the idea for the show had come about while making the recent Snoop Dogg

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