MTV Busts the Vice Squad

In many ways, Gavin McInnes has hipsterdom in the palm of his hand, so he can’t understand why MTV just doesn’t care. McInnes is co-founder of Vice – an obnoxious, free, 110,000-circulation magazine that’s the McSweeney’s of the sort of people who can define electroclash and who consider Terry Richardson a celebrity. And he and his seven-person crew are the current epitome of downtown fabulous, sponsoring a constant churn of parties in just the right places and forging tastemaking friendships (Fischerspooner, Vincent Gallo, Mos Def).

But one of McInnes’s most-promulgated fantasies was that Vice – which got its start thanks in part to a government-welfare grant in Canada before moving here in 1999 – would have its own TV show. Vice TV was endlessly promoted in the magazine as Coming Soon! Vice even hoodwinked a Canadian newspaper into writing a story about how they’d been signed by MTV.

Finally, in September, they actually met with MTV. “The consensus was, ‘We’re into it, we’re not going to pass on you’ – that was the last we heard from them.”

Then on April 1, MTV premiered Vice – an unrelated documentary series that “explores how people succumb to … and recover from” things like compulsive spending and cheating. “It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen,” McInnes whines. “It looks like they spent about $100 on it. It’s almost pre–high school.”

McInnes’s idea is more cleverly sophomoric: His show would be about “getting drunk with minor celebs, or a competition between white versus black supremacists,” he says. It would be just like the magazine, with its Ritalin-kid-friendly pieces on the difference between teen soaps and pornos – not to mention snotty music reviews and a much-read street-fashion dos-and-don’ts page (“Buddy, buddy, ease it up there a little bit. It’s great to have a cute little peanut ass, but straight men haven’t been showing those off since the 70s.”).

Clearly, at least in McInnes’s mind, he’s got his finger on the pulse of something MTV should want to cash in on. And then – this! “People are e-mailing me every day going, ‘Dude, you sold out. Your new show sucks.’ Vice’s lawyer sent MTV a cease-and-desist letter, demanding it change the name, but hasn’t heard back. MTV’s flacks sounded pretty exasperated when asked about Vice: “The series has been in development for three years.” McInnes has attempted to instigate an e-mail siege of MTV, too. “It’s hurting our brand,” he says. “Vice is about being obsessed with fucking your daughter’s friends, not this shit.”

MTV Busts the Vice Squad