When Vice Came to Swansea

From Planet 236

by Mark S Redfern

Congratulations to the winner of our 2019 Young Writers’ Essay Competition. Mark S. Redfern argues that a globally popular Vice documentary, repackaged for YouTube, gives a condescending and sensationalist angle on Swansea’s heroin crisis, and has left a poisonous legacy in capturing for posterity humiliating depictions of the protagonists, and misrepresenting working-class Welsh culture.

If you’ve watched a couple of videos on YouTube from the hip, cool, edgy media outlet Vice, chances are you’ll get some recommendations for their most popular videos in your sidebar. The Cannibal Warlords of Liberia. Suicide Forest in Japan. The Biggest Ass in Brazil. Their reach is global and they love taboos. One of the most eye-catching videos has the ominous title Teenage Heroin Epidemic. The thumbnail lures watchers in with a picture of a gaunt man strung-out, dosed off his skull on smack. Drooped eyelids. Mouth agape. He couldn’t tell the difference between Vice’s camera lens and a rubber duck.

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