Home » VICE Season 5 Premiere: “Assad’s Syria” / “Cost of Climate Change”

VICE Season 5 Premiere: “Assad’s Syria” / “Cost of Climate Change”

by Jef Dinsmore
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VICEonHBOOverview: As earlier reported VICE returns to HBO with a massive 30 installments from around the world in the fifth season. Each week hot topics about conflict, culture and science will be addressed by a staff of correspondents that seems to keep on growing. Of course, the news from around the globe keeps on amassing as well, and it takes a large news staff to go wherever the news arises. Some of the latest reports are in areas not often reached by mainstream news crews, but VICE braces itself and gets in there. Some of what they uncover can be unnerving, but it is all news that can either affect us as a global citizen or hit us close to home.  

HBOWatch is not intent on reviewing this content on a weekly basis, but from time to time will highlight what Shane Smith, Suroosh Alvi and the rest of their team have revealed via their reports. We start with a review of what the fifth season debut has presented. It was two half-hour segments presented back-to-back that premiered at 7:30pm on Friday, February 24. The rest of the series will air Friday nights at 11:00pm after REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER.

In the premiere, all eyes are on the country of Syria, a hotbed of deadly activity in the Islamic & Arabic world and on Shane Smith’s favored topic – climate change. Below an overview of each:

“Assad’s Syria” – After six years of civil war, Syria’s longtime dictator Bashar al-Assad is poised to retake full control of his country. Backed by Russian forces and a relentless bombing campaign, Assad’s army rolled into Aleppo in late 2016, toppling the rebel resistance. VICE travels through regime-controlled Syria to see how Assad prevailed and to find out what might happen next in his crippled country.

VICES5_IsobelYeung-300x226“Cost of Climate Change” – The first effects of climate change are being felt across the U.S., and projections show $40 Trillion in damage worldwide over the next five decades. As costs begin to mount, so do allegations that powerful interests in the oil and gas industry, like ExxonMobil, denied climate science and delayed corrective measures. Now, in the face of a scientific consensus, and with the Trump administration ushering some of these very same climate deniers into the highest levels of government, VICE Co-Founder and CEO Shane Smith follows the money to see the true economic stakes of decades of denial.  

Expectations: You are only going to be interested in the majority of VICE content if you are one of two types. You are either a humanitarian and care for the welfare of all or you consider yourself a global citizen and genuinely want to know what is happening around your world. Otherwise, why give a shit about the opening topic here. Who cares about Syria? I answer that later, but for now know that VICE has a habit and the staffing to stick around a topic when mainstream news wanders off it or when new big developments are changing the situation. Such is the case in Syria. Its existence as a chaotic state has been ongoing for a while now. VICE, however, still puts it in our face to give us a reminder that it is still very unsettled. This report will do just that.

As for the latter topic, one that is at the top of Shane Smith’s list, we look once again at climate change. At least, it seems he takes a different approach to the topic here. After all, how many times in how many ways do we need to see glaciers calving and waters rising? We get it or at least VICE’s audience does. So I expect a different approach to illustrate his point this time out. We will see what he offers us.


Gut Reaction: “Assad’s Syria” by correspondent Isobel Yeung. This young lady is in the thick of it in this report. She is in ravaged Aleppo the most, but is also seen in demolished Homs and in a beach town as well. She is afraid, but also diligent and careful in getting her report in. She flinches at sniper fire, and air strikes and a bit leery of the crumbling buildings around her. But she gets the facts in that the take-charge Bashar al-Assad is taking back his country regardless of the cost – even of over 4000 civilian lives. For now, Aleppo still hangs on as a city under bombardment, but when Yeung travels to Hom we see what Aleppo could become. It is essentially a small city reduced to rubble. In a clever way, she also shows us the other extreme – a beachfront on the Mediterranean filled with bathers, complete with sand-side hookas, without a noticeable care in the world. They illustrate the belief that all is well under Assad. It is still a fragile and fractured state and it took bravery for Isobel Yeung to take us there.

“The Cost of Climate Change” by VICE founder Shane Smith. Smith starts by reminding us that this is a topic broached before, but this time he takes a different angle. He looks at what costs such climate changes would wreak on us; who would have to deal with those costs and how deniers of this concept are costing us valuable time, money and resources. He first takes us to Miami, FL to show us water lapping over the seawall in front of new condo construction and offers a graphic of how much land could be permanently flooded over and of what said damages VICE_S5Shane2-300x173would cost. The answer is in trillions of dollars. Her states, however, that if deniers of the concept, including President Trump, would get on board there still might be strategies toward or prolong such tragedies. In fact, if such companies like Mobil/Exxon would have admitted truths to the world, as opposed to keeping them internal, years ago we wouldn’t be in this dilemma now, according to Shane Smith. He then likens their hurtful withholding of information to the tobacco industry not coming out forthright with the dangers of nicotine.

Well, it is interesting to hear that, but it is all a moot point what happened or didn’t in decades past. Regardless of whether you believe the concept is wrought by humanity’s abuse or whether we are in a cyclical climate pattern the fact still remains that climatic changes are happening. Severe and odd weather patterns are happening. Smith spells out that fact once again and reminds us that it is going to cripple us. What is important is the future not what could have happened in the past to change matters. Good luck to us all.  


In Conclusion: This was a strong start to Season Five, but I was hoping for an Isobel Yeung DeBrief and found none. It will be a challenge to keep up with all the installments ahead bu that is what HBOGo is for. As for the question above about Syria? I care because the anger in the Muslim world affects me if we see another terrorist attack stateside. It affects me because of the immigration issues currently about and it affects me because I consider myself a world citizen and am interested in learning about the entire globe. But, that is just me. I, via HBOWatch, will touch base from time to time to share what I’ve learned or been reminded of about the world we live in. Peace.       


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