Uproar in Hipsterland! They get attention for their liberal use of expletives, full-frontal nudity (female and male), and confrontational discourse. But did Vice magazine go too far when they casually threw around words like “nigger” and “fag” in an interview published in the archly conservative pages of the New York Press last week?
James Dixon, a 33-year-old IT technician, certainly thinks so. Dixon fired off an e-mail missive to hipster media outlets like The Fader, Paper, and, yes, the Voice, urging them to boycott the magazine’s advertisers. He included a list of phone numbers for such companies as Etnies, Ben Sherman, and Triple Five Soul, and encouraged recipients to call them. “Don’t just sit there and say to yourself, ‘Those Vice guys are crazy,’ ” wrote Dixon. “Do something.”
What was all the fuss about? Responding to a question posed by the Press‘s Adam Heimlich regarding Williamsburg’s popularity with trendy transplants, Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes responded: “At least they’re not fucking niggers or Puerto Ricans. At least they’re fucking white.”
McInnes, as well as Vice publisher Shane Smith and co-founder Suroosh Alvi, insist that his comments were made with a deep tone of sarcasm. “Being gays, blacks, and East Indians ourselves, we tend to use the vernacular with reckless abandon. We’ve always felt that PC attitudes always hurt the people they’re trying to help. We believe words like ‘African American’ and ‘East Indian’ are just excuses for white, middle class, academic liberals to patronize the working classes (of all races) and tell them how to speak,” they explained in a formal response issued hours after Dixon’s mass e-mail.
Dixon, a black man who has read Vice since it was Montreal’s version of the Voice, is not convinced. “What gives Gavin McInnes the license to be the self-appointed white hero of African Americans in this country?” he told Fly Life. “That it is his duty to save these poor niggers from being afraid of this bad, bad word?”
Alvi invited Dixon to respond in an upcoming issue of Vice, offering him the mag’s entire Letters section. “Race is such a huge issue in America, and there are so many rules about what you can and cannot say,” said Alvi. “I think people have the right to be sensitive to it. We’re just not giving these words the credence that everyone else is.”
Dixon declined Alvi’s offer. “I assure you they would not walk into a restaurant in my neighborhood and call the cook ‘nigger,’ then try to explain to him that they ‘were only trying to disarm the word.’ ”
Don’t let the outré blond wig fool you. Janice Combs is actually quite soft-spoken and gracious. Sipping on white wine with a girlfriend at Entertainment Weekly‘s party for their third annual photography issue at Soho’s Apple Concept Store, Mrs. Combs sported those notorious tresses and Versace leggings. She was actually one of the brighter stars at the rather lackluster affair, which saw a smattering of B-listers like actresses Natasha Lyonne and Maria Bello and Brit heartthrob Ben Chaplin. (Hey, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. The superstars are all in Europe—no doubt holding up the Paris spring fashion shows with self-consciously late arrivals.) Would Mrs. Combs be popping over to Paris or Milan as her son has? “Well, Milan is really cold right now,” she said curtly. “But I’ll be there soon, I’m sure.” Girrl, no doubt swapping hair tips with Donatella on Lake Como.
Speaking of blonds, what would you do if you got a call from Cameron Diaz? A Fly Life source was shopping at Target when it happened to her. The girl had once dated Diaz’s man, actor Jared Leto, and was questioned by the ditzy screen queen to ascertain the former My So Called Life heartthrob’s fidelity. Diaz is apparently so nervous that her guy is fooling around that she got a private detective to track down every woman he had been with in the last two years. “I just really love that boy and I just want to know if he’s messing around on me,” she told our freaked-out source. Even more baffling, Diaz recommended that she pick up a CD by Leto’s dubious band, 30 Seconds to Mars. Apparently he needed the plug: Our source noted that the album was on the sale rack.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 8, 2002