Eddy Moretti, Shane Smith

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Three years ago, the last thing you'd expect if Vice magazine were to launch an Internet TV site would be environmental activism or reporting on displaced persons, arms dealers and totalitarian states. But that's what you get on VBS.tv. Granted there are shows about naked girls and skateboarding as well, but the site, launched in March with help from Viacom, seems to have a scope pointed at more pressing social issues than the amount of cocaine you have to get into a model's sinuses before she'll make pretzel shapes whilst nude in your industrial loft. Its lead players, co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, along with director/partner Eddy Moretti and creative director Spike Jonze, have given their gallivanting new focus.With a re-launch scheduled for early February, shows being licensed to cable networks and a full-length feature doc that appeared in the Toronto and Berlin film festivals—Heavy Metal in Baghdad, about a band struggling to continue rocking while there's a war going on around them—Vice's particular brand of documentary is gathering momentum and may soon have an influence on the mainstream media it purports to revile.

Moretti on lessons learned in VBS.tv's infancy: "We didn't really know what to expect launching this thing, and I learned a lot of things about status quo news media, and how amazing it is if you just have a point of view. You can actually create something that people will be seeking. There is no model for a company like VBS; we really didn't know what to expect when we launched, we thought we'd just be a little niche site that would take years to break into the mainstream media."

Smith, on being inspired by watching Gaspar Noé direct his new film in Tokyo: "I came back on the plane saying Vice has got to get even fucking crazier, we've got to take more chances and do what we want, and Eddy and I were talking about what we want to do with this TV show now, which is to be a countercultural voice against Hollywood, aggressively, and go for the stuff that we believe in."

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