Interview: VICE’s Jesse Pearson on Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze, and the Future of VICE Films & VBS.TV
Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009 by Hunter Stephenson
Obviously, the staff at /Film collectively views Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are with a certain reverence. The film is simply a win all around, tastefully exploring and modernizing the notions of imaginative nostalgia and vice versa that are so often exploited these days in the name of “geekdom” and “hipsterdom.” On a related note, I’ve always found it a bit profound that Ain’t It Cool and Vice magazine were started within two years of one another (’96 and ’94, respectively); both went on to make a positive, DIY impact on culture in the aughts unlike anything in new media this side of negative influencers like Matt Drudge and Rupert Murdoch. Back then, I remember thinking that Austin’s Harry Knowles was fat off movies (and ‘shrooms?) and the Brooklyn staff at Vice was lithe off drugs and deadlines, but there was something in common: they both ignored Old Media (now dying), didn’t give a damn about design trends, and did things the way they should be done, with knowledge, a cultivated attitude, and enthusiasm.
One the main and most important guys who has helped Vice see its way to 23 offices around the globe, millions of readers, and untold cultural influence is the mag’s long-term Editor-in-Chief Jesse Pearson. He also plays a role in the company’s video website, VBS.tv, where WTWTA director, Spike Jonze, serves as the creator director. On the eve of Vice‘s 15th anniversary and a coinciding $250K Halloween party in Brooklyn, we spoke with Pearson about the future of the company’s Vice Films (where Jonze is also involved) and regarding the mag’s recent, highly recommended Film Issue. He also shared a few of his favorite films and welcome ideas about the state of cinema, the ever-controversial fast-moving zombie, and the “Chaos Reigns” fox in Antichrist (not to mention the fetching photo shown above.)
Hunter Stephenson: Hi Jesse. Vice has released a film issue that arrives during a very interesting, chaotic time for cinema, especially in the States. And Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are is an important film that I think signifies a steamy unification between two of the aughts’ biggest influential youth movements; to the eye rolls of many on both sides: the geeks and the hipsters. And as such, it seems a great time for /Film and Vice to have a chat. Since Spike is the creative director at Vice‘s VBS.tv, what are your thoughts on his latest film in terms of its cultural relevance and do you agree with these notions?
Jesse Pearson: Right now, all I really feel qualified to gauge in terms of cultural relevance is the film’s trailer and all of the general advance expectations surrounding the movie. I know that I have rarely, maybe never, seen a trailer create so much visceral excitement in so many people. Friends have told me that they cried watching it. That seems a wee bit over the top to me. But, to partially answer your question, I think that the amount of drooling going on in advance of Where the Wild Things Are is very interesting and very telling. What it means to me is that people, lots of people, maybe people in the two much-maligned, very amorphous and perhaps not-really-existing-in-the-way-that-most-people-mean-it-when-they-say-it groups that you mentioned, geeks and hipsters… Wait, where was I going with this?