I have avoided blogging Vice TV’s Guide to Liberia for fear that I might actually encourage people to watch it. One can only resist so long.
Let the circus begin.
HUFFINGTON POST: You end the film talking about the possibility of the UN mission leaving Liberia in the near future and the consequences that could have. Do you think all hell is likely to break loose if they go?
SHANE SMITH: One of the things I came away with is there are a lot of ex-combatants, a lot of them, who have known nothing but war, are starving, living in slums. They have access to weapons, there are generals who will lead them, who are starving as well, and there’s been no effort to help these guys get back into society, in fact it’s quite the opposite. So you have these guys who’ve got nothing, they’re starving, and if you take away the only barrier between them and food and a mansion on the beach, and they have the guns and kids to do it, and they’re starving too. There’s not a lot of conjecture there, you know what I mean. It’s ripe.
HUFFINGTON POST: So how was the experience of traveling through Liberia different from, say, Iran or North Korea?
SHANE SMITH: At any time, anywhere you would go, you’d be surrounded by 30, 40, 50 kids, and young people and whomever, and they all wanted money, they’re all starving. And if we didn’t have generals with us we would have been totally f**ked up and if we hadn’t quite frankly lucked out a couple of times we would have been f**ked up.
HUFFINGTON POST: You mean they would have just jumped you?
SHANE SMITH: Oh, for sure. The crime rate in Monrovia is astronomical. The crime rate in West Point [a notorious slum] is even higher. If you have 80 percent unemployment, you can do the math: 80 percent of the population is doing something criminal then just to survive.
Gosh. I don’t even know where to start. Fortunately I don’t have to. Kind of speaks for itself.
One thing I will add: I hang out with these guys for a living, and I find New Haven more dangerous. The East Village’s hipsters worry me more. West Point is a standard shanty town with some dark corners, but a rather nice market with good vegetables. I think I am more scared of hanging out with Shane Smith than the ex-combatants.
Of course, saying so is less likely to get Mr. Smith the ratings or the babes. I refer you to Michela Wrong for the root of all bumptious, self-indulgent foreign correspondence.
Remember: they want you to get infuriated. It’s good for business. And I am a pawn in their dark, nefarious plan.
On the other hand, applying Occam’s Razor: they are indeed the naive harlequin boors they appear.
I don’t know which is more disconcerting.