The Vice Effect: Making Education Cool


If Vice is not on your YouTube radar or your bookmarked go-to, it ought to be. Vice’s YouTube channel delivers impressive content on a daily basis to prod your understanding of the world. The internet’s explosive use of news media platforms has seen old media co-exist with their virtual counterparts. Vice has extended the network for their initial young market by jumping online. Their appeal has broadened through looking at current trends and world events.

In the 19 years since it was born, Vice magazine has uncovered the arts, culture, people and issues of the globe. They claim to circulate 80 000 copies a month in the UK alone, and are originally based in New York. Hitting YouTube in December of 2005 has made them the CNN of youth culture. Their channel has over 2 399 400 subscribers and over 203 144 000 video views.

Vice thrives on deconstructing uneasy topics and hushed truths. All affairs are dealt with a credibility that hones in on the detail of what actually matters – not the hype of mainstream news, but the real stuff that often gets left out of the public eye. Watching gives you the feeling of being immersed in that location and issue. Vice can be likened to the exotic street food of documentaries; feeding your need for global culture in well-made, enriching mouthfuls.

Their no-rubbish approach is a treat to engage with. It actually makes learning enjoyable. Dull and dry are replaced by provocative and colourful. Hell, they may even be making it cool to have an opinion on underground issues like gypsy drinking in Transylvania and the use of hallucinogenic frogs in the Amazon.

The subjects in Vice’s videos are delivered in a range of bite-size and hefty chunks. Some documentaries are only minutes long, but many fetch upwards of 40 minutes. The shortest video I have seen on their channel is 46 seconds, a snippet of a bigger project called Young Americans. Discussions of African-American queers, child prodigies and college debt emphasise the scope of dialogue among today’s American youth. Heavy conversation topics are made relevant and anchored to reality. Now everybody’s got time for that.

In Vice’s humble beginnings, they were formerly known as Voice of Montreal, then Voice before settling at Vice. It was April this year that they gained their 2 000 000th subscriber. It seems online users enjoy their wacky and forward way of presenting educational matters.

An unexpected gem was posted this week on the Vice channel, a video called China’s Millionaire Pigeon Racers (Part 1 of 3). The “ritzy underworld” of racing these perceived flying rodents is captured by Vice’s Thomas Morton. These birds are auctioning for over $330 000 each. This is clearly a topic that has been on mute, until now. This Chinese rich-man’s luxury is the “new money” of their country. It is where pigeon racing championships, flying Associations and flock breeding are understood customs of their country’s higher class. While a weird and wildly misunderstood insight, it is more alluring to watch than another ‘news’ segment on Kim and Kanye’s baby.

Though topics may stretch from the comforts of your own backyard, Vice’s serious and insightful tone have a ring of truth we all long for on our screens. The untold, hidden obscurities of truth are how humans come to connect through learning something new. Imagine our collective intelligence if we all watched one Vice video a day. Vice makes it feel acceptable to grab a tea and have a nerd-day by watching their latest content. They now have the largest viewership for YouTube documentary content.

You have to expect what you would normally never expect from Vice. Vice is currently tackling Turkey’s civil revolt, the future of marijuana and deportee slums of Mexico.

But tomorrow? The only sure thing is Vice’s growing YouTube digits.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
Studying Journalism, Marketing & Advertising at University of Wollongong, Australia. I have a major passion for writing about film, music, popular culture and people.

Want to write about Web Videos or other art forms?

Create writer account


  1. Mcmaster

    I’ve subbed to their channel for ages now. They produce great stuff with great production value.

    • Michelle Webb

      They really are worth setting aside some time every night/on a weekly basis to watch what they are up to next, I learn so much!

  2. Andrew Couzens

    I hadn’t heard of them before, though it actually sounds right up my alley. I look forward to yet another youtube addiction.

    • Michelle Webb

      I’m glad you’ve now discovered them. I’m surprised they are not as popular as they should be. Going mainstream could alter the gem that they currently are though.

  3. Michelle this is such a fantastic article and I’m so proud of you! xxxx

  4. Jon Lisi
    Jon Lisi

    This is great information highlighting the globalization of media–thanks.

  5. Shell your articles are so well written! Great job missy, looking forward to the next one xx

  6. Nothing against Vice, but this is an almost brazen piece of advertisement.

Leave a Reply