Among them, VBS.tv, the new online companion to the 11-year-old youth-culture magazine-turned-all-around-media brand, Vice.
With director Spike Jonze onboard as creative director, VBS launched in beta earlier this month and each time I've dropped in to the easily navigable site for a quick content once-over, I've been compelled to stay for large blocks of valuable business-day time.
The VBS home page says the site's mission is "Rescuing you from television's deathlike grip." But it's perhaps more accurate to say it's tempting the curious web viewer away from the contrived. As Vice co-founder Shane Smith states of the site's mandate in a video introduction on the site: "It could be music, it could be culture, it could be funny shit -- as long as it's real."
'Bolivian Marching Power'
Programming is wide ranging but firmly in the Vice voice and includes series such as "Bolivian Marching Powder," in which a Vice correspondent tracks down Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, travels the famously deadly road from La Paz and fills us in on the hows and whys of cocaine production. (And what do you know? I can watch this without providing my last two tax returns.)
Other highlights include the online version of the Vice Travel Guide. The latter features such off-the-beaten-track adventures as New Year's Eve in Kabul and Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi's trip inside Northwest Pakistan to check in on an illegal-arms market.
This is not to say all the site's content is so weighty. The magazine's still-funny staple "Do's and Don'ts" comes to life with staffers and a range of guests such as Judah Friedlander and David Cross dissecting the usual assortment of lifestyle and fashion choices. And as a counterpoint to just about everything, there's the oddly absorbing "The Cute Show," featuring soft bunnies and little ponies (see the March issue of Creativity for more on VBS).
Meanwhile, a more mainstream media outlet has launched a humor-based, young-man-facing site that bears repeat visits. Turner's latest foray into broadband content, Super Deluxe, launched in January and already has a star, of sorts, in the form of comic/artist Brad Neely. Neely's animated shows are built around a cast of unlikely but somehow shockingly real characters. Among them: a hulking, introspective man-child called Baby Cakes who loves role-playing games and singing and sees his dad's friends as wizards. Another Neely series is based on the Professor Brothers, who tell stories about Sodom and Gomorrah and JFK, who they posit was a mind-reading robot and, well, explanation is rather pointless here. It's just a talented comic making ridiculously funny and, in the case of Baby Cakes, often oddly poignant videos.
Vice's Smith says VBS is all about honesty; Super Deluxe is, as Neely told Creativity, "a place where characters, jokes and creative voices can thrive without the usual formula."
Of course, both sites' content is eminently sharable. But here's the key: The content is worth sharing. And that is perhaps the most salient point for anyone getting into the broadband-entertainment business.
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Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine and AdCritic.com. E-mail your big ideas to her at [email protected]