Let’s have fourteen bottles of wine at dinner, roast suckling pig, and a story about chopping a dude’s head off in the desert.”Vice’s show on HBO has the tagline “News from the edge.” Besides North Korea, “Vice” takes on subjects from political assassinations in the Philippines to India’s nuclear standoff with Pakistan.It showcases the company’s signature brand of gonzo journalism, which it calls “immersionism.” Vice sends its staff members—generally tattooed young reporters in skinny jeans with scruffy facial hair—into dangerous, far-flung places.It depends on what the definition of journalism is.”Smith is forty-two and bearish, with a salt-and-pepper beard: he looks like a younger Santa Claus after a tour of duty in Iraq and a stop at a tattoo parlor. star would be the perfect way to get Vice’s cameras back into the closed state. “Look,” he said, “if I could pull off a stunt where the most hermetic leader of the most hermetic fucking country in the world works with me to do a stunt to promote my TV show, then every TV fucking company in the world should hire me to work for them.”Smith is both Vice’s C. Apart from a few years spent bouncing around Eastern Europe, he has had no other career in the two decades since he helped to found Vice.The idea for the trip, he said, had come about during the making of a previous Vice documentary in Pyongyang, in 2010. Over the years, he has worked in ad sales and, increasingly, in a managerial and editorial role, which includes starring in the HBO show.
In one video, shot in Yemen, the filmmaker Spike Jonze, a friend of the founders, asks Smith to describe “the Shane Smith character.” Smith calls himself “the poor man’s Hemingway.” His summary of his life style: “Bon vivant, storyteller, drunk.Not long after Rodman’s trip, I went to see Smith at the company’s headquarters, a set of converted warehouses in Williamsburg.Smith met me in the Bear Room, a conference room decorated with a Persian rug and a grizzly bear, now stuffed, that had been shot after surprising Vice producers filming in Alaska.It includes a photo shoot, titled “Home Entertainment,” of topless women posing with remote controls over their breasts, and a travel piece about the remote Kalash Valleys of Pakistan: “It’s not a nice place to live, but, as I discovered, it is a great place to party.”In recent years, Vice has been engaged in an energetic process of growing up—both commercially and in terms of journalistic ambition.It now has thirty-five offices in eighteen countries, from Poland to Brazil.But Fareed Zakaria, the “loosened the format” of television reporting.“What Vice is trying to do is to get a new audience interested in the world,” he said.Once, after its editors were accused of sexism for featuring nude porn stars in the magazine, they posed nude as well.Current articles combine investigative reporting with a sensibility that is adolescent, male, and proudly boorish.The company’s cameramen were in the crowd, filming for a weekly news-magazine series, “Vice,” that will air this spring on HBO.Not long before the game started, the crowd, which included the state’s diplomatic and military élite, began to chant “”—the traditional invocation that means “Ten thousand years, so long live Korea!