Vice is known for tackling controversial topics. To accompany that approach, the magazine will also include imagery and fashion spreads that push the limits (oftentimes including women who are missing an article of clothing, like a shirt). It looks like Vice crossed and stepped all over the line of good taste with its latest spread, and has issued an apology.
Included in its most recent fiction issue was a section called “Last Words,” featuring fashion models depicting the last moments of female literary figures who had committed suicide. For example, the model playing Sylvia Plath stares into an oven wearing a pretty dress.
We’ll quote our friends at Fishbowl NY directly: “Last Words is gross because it glamorizes suicide. There’s nothing sexy, fashionable, or edgy, about people killing themselves.” They weren’t the only ones who took issue with the spread.
Jezebel called it “almost breathtakingly tasteless.” Fashionista writes about Vice, “What shocks me is the reckless, oblivious, editorial sleight of hand that marks Vice’s work.” Salon called it “maximum trolling.” Commenters also took to the spread to express their outrage. (It did have its defenders.)
Vice has taken the spread down from the website — along with the comments — though it will appear in the print magazine, which has already gone to press. In an apology that appears on its site, the magazine says, in part:
The fashion spreads in VICE magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art-editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.
“Last Words” was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.
Note: They don’t apologize for making an error in judgment. They apologize if you were “hurt or offended.” Seems like they’re saying anyone who has a problem just doesn’t get it. Actually, it’s Vice that doesn’t get it. Alienating and disgusting your readers is not a good look.