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Misc. Reviews 

Vice walks a short plank

Wednesday, Nov 22 2006
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From the hipsto-nihilist media empire that brought you "The Vice Guide to Fisting" and "The Vice Guide to Being a Whore" comes The Vice Guide to Travel DVD, an offering that pretty much plays like a video version of Vice magazine. Which means:

1. Interesting subject matter examined only deep enough to reveal there are greater unexamined implications below the surface. In this case we follow Vice correspondents as they dip their toes into the uneasy waters of six underexposed global locales. They go on the lookout for mutated animals in the frozen urban waste of Chernobyl, talk to the leader of a Palestinian "boy scout" troupe training his kids for suicide bombing, track down a Bulgarian arms dealer with a dirty nuke for sale, and scrounge up more trouble elsewhere. It's the kind of stunt-tourist journalism that spawned the Blog Age, but with a cool soundtrack.

2. A cool soundtrack — which consists of, not surprisingly, a grip of bands on the Vice Records label (DFA 1979, Panthers, Chromeo). Would have been nice to hear more indigenous music, especially during the baile funk episode in Rio and the psychedelic dinosaur-and-booze ceremony in the African Congo. I'm pretty sure they weren't rocking the Stills in the jungle.

3. Unnecessary cameos by hipster celebs who bank on the hand-me-down comedy of irony (David Cross) or idiocy (Johnny Knoxville).

You can see which side of the fence we fall on. The Vice Guide to Travel is clever and well researched but too sensationalized, condescending, and cursory to offer any real insight into the Pakistani weapons market or the failed German utopia in Paraguay. If you're an armchair traveler whose window for information stays open for as long as the BART ride to that East Bay underground gallery opening, press play. If you're after a deeper perspective into some of the world's problem areas, there are better ways to find it.

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Jonathan Zwickel

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