Fear And Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72 Essay, Research Paper
I knew I was in for something different before even opening the book. On the cover of the book was a skull colored by the American flag, with swastikas in its eye sockets. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I had no idea who Hunter S. Thompson was. I opened the book and began to read through the author’s preface. Throughout were numerous references to drugs, sex, and politics. I began to get a picture of who HST was and about his style of writing.
HTS revolutionized modern journalism with a style all his own. He evolved a new style of journalism called “Gonzo” journalism. This bold and brazen style of journalism is the telling of the blatant truth with no thought of consequence. According to Thompson “The true Gonzo reporter needs the talent of a master journalist, the eye of an artist/photographer and the heavy balls of an actor.” A gonzo journalist does not proofread his work, because that would take away from the spontaneous of the event. A Gonzo journalist will witness an event, and either at the time of it, or shortly thereafter completely write about it. When written at an event, “The reporter works his fingers to bloody nubs trying to capture all that is happening around him, and then sends it off to the editor without a second look.”
Bill Cardoso a close friend of HTS’ coined the term “gonzo” in a letter regarding an article written about the Kentucky Derby in which he wrote: “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”, and was more about white trash than horses. Cardoso wrote, “I don’t know what the f*** you’re doing, but you’ve changed everything. It’s totally gonzo”. Cardoso, himself a journalist, claims that “gonzo” is actually a corruption of a French Canadian word, “gonzeaux”, meaning, “shining path”.
Gonzo journalism is also highly subjective. When a Gonzo style article is written, it is clearly known where the writer stands on the topic of the article. You become immersed in the writer’s feelings, thoughts, and views on whatever is being written about. HST is constantly extremely critical and scrutinizes every situation he ends up in with a sarcastic, humorous and/or vulgar twist. I enjoy this part of his writing because it makes everything more interesting to read. HST also continuously revolves around central themes of drugs, sex, politics, and violence. I doubt this is an essential part of “Gonzo” journalism but as there are not very many other journalists to compare HTS’ works to I assume it’s basically a fundamental part of “Gonzo” journalism. I’m excited about delving further into “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72”, I look forward to discovering a more full picture about all sides of politics. I believe the “Gonzo” style journalism of HST can best bring me something closer to the raw, unadulterated truth about politics and elections.
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