Oct 7, 2014 · 1 minute
VICE has built an empire atop the idea that it's the media equivalent to punk rock. Nothing is off limits for the publication, which has covered everything from South American animal fucking to youth protests around the world, and it doesn't care what you think.

In reality, however, the company is more like a man who writes commercial jingles and plays a little Fugazi while he works to make up for selling out. VICE isn't punk rock; it's a pop punk publication controlled by advertisers.

Nowhere is that more evident than with the launch of Collectively, an Upworthy clone created by VICE's ad agency whose launch was underwritten by a large number of companies. I mean, come on -- the site debuted with a post about how brands, some of which just so happened to sponsor the new site, are going to save the world. That's pathetic.

But this isn't the first evidence that VICE is more than willing to sacrifice its punk rock persona to placate advertisers. Last week, Gawker reported that VICE writers requires approval from management before writing about big brands it may launch a business deal with in the future. VICE isn't even compromising for the sake of money; it's doing so for the mere possibility of a payday.

Then there's the company's hypocritical stance on how interns should be paid, and the revelation that it doesn't pay its staff nearly as much as many have assumed. (Who'd have thunk that getting someone to blow cocaine up your ass and writing about it wouldn't be a lucrative gig?) That's media establishment distilled to its purest form.

None of which is to say that Vice doesn't do good work. Its videos are more bearable than the drivel on television news, and some of its sites produce excellent coverage all the time.

The problem is that VICE is walking around in a Black Flag tee shirt even as it sidles up to marketers for large companies and asks them what it needs to do to make some cash. Vice doesn't have to apologize for its crazier coverage; it has to apologize for perpetuating the same old bullshit that it was supposed to be fighting.