What I’m Watching Right Now: VBS.tv & Thoughts on American Apparel
This fell off my radar for a while, but I wanted to mention that there are some really interesting videos on VBS.tv.
My friend Bashira just clued me into their “Mexican Month” programming. Here is a video from their “Vice Guide to Sex” series about Casa Xochiquetzal, a residential facility in one of Mexico Cityâ€™s shadiest neighborhoods that caters exclusively to the areaâ€™s elderly sex workers.
VBS.tv is an online broadcast network helmed by Academy Award-nominated director Spike Jonze and owned by Vice. Normally I can’t stand most magazine-related online channels (always seems like so much shameless self promotion), but what I have seen so far on VBS.tv is always eclectic and filled with possibility. Vice also owns a retail clothing chain and record label.
Here is VBS.tv’s mission statement.
I am all over their recent immigration coverage, ILLEGAL LA. I find it interesting that American Apparel’s Legalize LA campaign is a related link.
Despite the controversy around American Apparel’s founder Dov Charney, I applaud the company’s progressive policies that offer their primarily Mexican factory workers twice the minimum wage, subsidized lunches, and most importantly (to me), company-subsidized, affordable health insurance ($8/week, $1-3/week for children). Workers are also allowed free phones calls home during work hours.
A few thousand miles away from my local store, American Apparel’s first shop in Mexico City opened three years ago and since then their own emerging hipsterati have been rockin’ the deep v shirts and – most recently – reading about themselves through the launch of Vice Mexico.
I find it fascinating that Charney grew up in Montreal, which is the original home base for Vice Magazine. So, a young Canadian entrepreneur in love with American culture created a product that is now ubiquitously consumed by American youth, and now a magazine born in Montreal (filled with American Apparel ads) is telling kids in Mexico what they should think is cool.
On one hand, Mexicans are building the product that fuels the American Apparel business and then on the other a different economic class of Mexicans is consuming the product, contributing to the cycle of production.
I know I not bringing up anything that a lot of people don’t already know, but this blog is mostly to document elements of culture that impact my life and capture my attention at any given point during week. I will never write about anything that I don’t care about.
Here is an interview Charney did with CBS last year:
Some of American Apparel’s stuff is cute, but I tend to avoid the stores unless there is something that really grabs me as “must-have”, which is rare….
Just like at Chuck E. Cheese (another ubiquitous American chain store that I have a love/hate relationship with), I enjoy going into American Apparel but I don’t like the creepy costumed employees inside.