© Media Watch 7 (1) 44-54, 2016
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
An analysis of VICE Media’s Expedient Commodification of Modern Hipster Culture as a Motif of Contemporary Capitalism
NICHOLAS RYAN WARD
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
VICE Media has risen from a local Canadian counterculture magazine to an international corporate giant. Bloomberg Business has valued the company at over $1 billion, while other reputable outlets have placed VICE’s worth at many times that. Remarkably, through its ascension to mainstream relevancy and despite getting into bed with some of the world’s richest and most denounced corporations, VICE has managed to maintain its reputation as a counterculture brand. This qualitative analysis on the evolution of VICE Media presents past interviews and market decisions by VICE owners to exhibit how the company has expediently captured and preserved the attention of millennials through its strategic commodification of 21st century hipsterism. This analysis also relies on the work of prevalent academics and journalists to provide an understanding of VICE, hipsterism and their inherent connection to consumerism. This is an accessible study that demonstrates how VICE identified and harnessed the socio-cultural/socioeconomic phenomenon of hipsterism to amplify its potential as a commercial media institution.
Keywords: Culture, media, VICE Media, hipster, hipsterism, millennial, consumerism, media conglomeration, branding, identity, counterculture.
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Nicholas Ryan Ward works in Communications for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University. Much of his academic work is done through the Faculty of Public Affairs in the Department of Communications and through the Institute of African Studies. His research interests include popular culture, media imperialism, Americanization, media’s influence on self-portrait/identity, subcultures and communication distortions.