There are industries where the risk of injury are high.
You could lose your leg working on an on an oil-rig, lose your thumb in an abattoir and lose your sight as a welder. These are all industries that are filled with safety regulations and safety equipment to prevent injury and keep people alive. There are also specific regulatory bodies for each of these industries because they are proper industries with proper working people making something proper.
And then there are the other "industries."
Media. Advertising. Fashion. Branding. Writing. Photography. The Hipster Industries. Not proper industries with steel and fire, but industries filled with entitled crybabies who haven’t ever really done a day's work in their lives. These Hipster Industries apparently come with their own type of risks: the risk of being crushed by giant egos, gouged by giant penises and sweatshopped by cooler-than-thou media empire machines.
Just ask Dov Charney. Just ask Terry Richardson. Just ask VICE Media.
In my mind Terry Richardson, Dov Charney and VICE all fit together like fingers in a glove -- a black glove smeared in duck fat. A glove probably used for something ‘fringe’ you might want to burn after use… but a glove nonetheless.
There was a peak time for VICE magazine before it was VICE Media where it was the best thing in print.
While Terry Richardson was taking a good bulk of their front covers and American Apparel ads appeared on all of their back covers. The front was Terry Richardson’s eye, the middle was Gavin McGuiness’ voice and the back was American Apparels version of commercial and sexual libertarianism. It was the best magazine out there from the moment you clapped eyes on it piled up next to the door in your favorite pub, café or tattoo shop to the moment you put it down… next to your toilet.
To me it was a giant glistening FUCK YOU to anyone who said you couldn’t do it your way and make it happen. And actually, I think at the time there wasn’t a more "American" trio running. American in the windswept and gasoline fuelled way I like to picture America, not America in the litigious, strip mall wasteland slowly rusting into its own bullshit state it currently seems to exist in. Richardson has Old Glory tattooed on his arm Charney called his company ‘American’ and VICE embodies everything great about freedom of expression and speech, which is, of course, the ability to be honest. The three shared an audience and an aesthetic that seemed to be informed by the chaotic truth of their lives. One that was probably fast paced, drug fuelled, sex filled and, against the odds, financially and professionally working.
Now all three are facing some self-inflicted smack down.
Terry Richardson is rapidly becoming too toxic for high street mega brands to steal credibility off. Dov Charney lost the helm of his own company and VICE media is fielding some accusations that it under pays/values it’s employees while looking at revenues of $1billion by 2016. That combined with corporate coziness and mainstream acceptance will, I’m sure, end up with many damning column inches and some scandals probably involving drugs… and of course the ubiquitous sex.
It’s true that VICE Land, Terry World and the America of American Apparel are Neverlands run by punkrock Peter Pan’s. They make their own rules and some of the rules are crappy rules. But all three couldn’t locate a fuck to give with a fuck-finder. And that works when it’s just you and your homies. But when your art becomes a business, your business becomes a lifestyle or your business becomes an empire you are expected to either change what you do, how you do it or, if not, warn future employees – maybe it’s time to look at some regulations.
Regulations in real industries are for the good of the employees, and usually are things like:
PROPER INDUSTRY WORK SAFETY GUIDE
1. WEAR A HARD HAT
Because if you don’t your skull could be caved in and end up looking like a dropped pie.
2. FOLLOW SAFETY PROTOCOL
In the event of a chemical leak follow the safety protocol and make sure you don’t just run like a spooked deer because if you do babies born in this area will look like Picasso portraits for the next 1000 years.
3. BE AWARE AROUND DANGEROUS EQUIPMENT
90% of the equipment in this building will kill you by ripping your skin off - so don’t be a dancing, running, jumping, goof-ball fucktard around it.
- THANKS, MANAGEMENT
These things seem obvious – like they wouldn’t even have to be mentioned but evidently they do.
HIPSTER INDUSTRY WORK SAFETY GUIDE
1. WARNING. THERE WILL BE DICK
If I went to see Anne Geddes I’d expect to fall asleep on a pumpkin with a little pea-pod hat on. If I went to Annie Lebowitz I’d expect to be in front of a wind machine and on the cover of Vanity Fair. If I went to Mapplethorpe I’d expect Rob to be snapping away while someone had their arm up my arse treating me like Kermit the Frog making my mouth move very slowly while I croaked. And if I went to Terry Richardson I’d expect to see his massive veiny pink cock.
Terry Richardson has a massive veiny pink cock big enough to beat a protester with or club a baby seal to death. I know this and you know this because we have both see it in photographs. There are thousands of photos of it doing all sorts of things from resting in a hotdog bun, being used as a paper weight in a hurricane to acting like a semen filled monsoon bucket specifically designed to put out forest fires that happen to flare up on a girls tits. If you go to see Terry Richardson and you’re not Obama or, someone with actual power, like Beyonce you should expect to see his cock. It seems to be the deal.
2. BEWARE. GIANT EGO AHEAD
No matter how you try, in the Hipster Industries the ego is unavoidable. You will certainly be in the presence of ‘genius’ and possibly in the presence of ‘greatness’… until the coke wears off.
The bigger the ego the more the boss thinks they can get away with it. ‘It’ these days, falls under the following sort of shenanigans. Only hiring good-looking people, firing folks with cancer, showering employees with derogatory slurs and (sigh) more sex scandals.
3. CAUTION. SEX SCANDALS
I’d take a wild guess and say one of the prime motivators for Hipster Industry success is the desire to get laid. Your boss will be more like a guitarist than a business school graduate. Get famous. Get laid. Get rich. Get laid.
Like it or not American Apparel put out ads you can jerk off to and does this need to be pointed out – they, like Victoria Secret, are an underwear company. You’re selling sex. If your chosen Hipster Industry is an underwear company and the store you work in filled with giant posters of simulated sex and nudity there’s a good chance sex will be heavy on the subject matter menu.
4. HAZARD. YOU WILL BE PAID IN CRED NOT CASH
When I was 20-years-old my day at work could have been done by spreading birdseed onto a keyboard and letting some chickens peck at it and then at 5pm pressing spell check. I also got paid terribly. This is the thing: When you’re young you get paid shit. My first year of advertising I got paid £8,000 and had to move back home with my parents. I lived off the curled up sandwiches left over from meetings. I was basically working for free - because I was shit at what I was doing.
But then I got better and more valuable to the company and I got paid more. And I was headhunted and got paid more and then I wasn’t in my twenties anymore and I was paid like an adult. That’s what happens in every industry. But here’s the other thing – if you don’t like it tell your boss to go fuck himself and start your own studio/collective/content factory/agency/thing – you, after all are 22-years-old and know everything there is about everything.
- THANKS, MANAGEMENT
Is this slip from grace just a cost of doing business when you do business like you live your life? Basically as a teenager with greying pubes and millions of dollars in the bank. Is it a case of ‘show me Hipster Industrialist with fame and money and no sex scandal, wrongful dismissal suits or disgruntled employees on a takedown mission with jealous rivals egging them on’ and I’ll show you a good fucking lawyer?
Richardson may have had his day (although he made $58 million last year so…) and Charney could be on the last roll of his dice but I don’t see VICE running aground anytime soon and maybe it’s because the people at VICE grew up and kept their pants on.
But watch this space.