Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

This short essay is by Aaron Sherman, a high school student in 1997. He earned a grade of 93, but was penalized for "excessive commas". Hmm. Wonder what HST would say about that? --Christine O

Aaron Sherman


NOTE: Scrod.com is now cornboy.com and is now offline I believe.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a revolutionary contemporary author. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, evolved new journalism into his own style called "Gonzo.” Gonzo has evolved throughout Thompson's life as a new and interesting way to represent his ideals. The majority of Thompson's books and writing are classified as non-fiction, and are largely based upon society and politics. This style, which was called Gonzo, purely because it sounded "cool” is popular amongst the American people for the truth of society it brings, while sugar coated with drugs.

Gonzo journalism is a style of new journalism. 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.” (Hart, http://www.scrod.com/hst/gonzo.html) The article written also takes no claim at all to be objective. An objective piece tries to deliver a story with no biases, whereas a subjective piece is quite biased one way or another. When Hunter S. Thompson called Nixon "A walking embarrassment to the human race,” (Thompson, 72' campaign account) it was quite clear that the piece was subjective. It is felt, that the author owes it to be subjective, due to human nature to be biased. Even though something appears to be objective, it may leave out critical answers to questions, that completely change a story. Without openly admitting the partial subjectivity of an article, people have to study the work to determine the author's true point of view. When a Gonzo article is written, it is both clear what the authors point of view is, and that it is the author's opinion not fact (i.e., there is no proof, that Nixon was an embarrassment to the human race, so it is an opinion). Thompson feels that the overall effect matters, not the petty facts, and to him it is no different then a hyperbole in a poem. The subjective idea was the realization of William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism. The final component which Hunter S. Thompson brings to his work is excessive drug use. The whole concept of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was an excessive drug induced trip in Las Vegas. In the end, he created an amusing scenario, but downplayed the true danger of drugs.

By following a very subjective path, and without rewrites the Gonzo reporter becomes the story. Whatever views the author has the reader reads, and becomes immersed inside. The events are communicated in a stream of consciousness, both informal and comical, in an effort to seem like an intimate conversation. Often a Gonzo report will not have anything to do with the subject, but metajournalism the story involved in documenting the subject. In the end it has been remarked that, "People feel like one of the boys, crammed in a hot bus, or small press room straining to hear and decipher what the candidates saying." (Hart, http://www.scrod.com/hst/gonzo.html) A McGovern insider said "it is the least accurate yet most truthful account of the `72 race.” (Hart, http://www.scrod.com/hst/gonzo.html) "Most commentators, even ones who take a negative view of Thompson's methods, readily admit his books are entertaining, at the very least. His political coverage is widely respected though it is as widely subjective as his other work. Even political conservatives admire Thompson's tenacity and energy. He was the only journalist to cover the entire 1972 presidential campaign from beginning to end.” (Beachmans, 1370)

Comparatively, Thompson wrote "Politics is like the guinea worm. It sneaks into your body and grows like a cyst from within until finally it gets so big and strong that it bursts straight through the skin, a horrible red worm with a head like a tiny cobra, snapping around in the air as it struggles to breathe.” (Thompson, Rolling Stone)

As far as politics are considered, Dr. Thompson is a stout Democrat and fights vehemently against the republican conservative movement. Thompson offers a truthful representation of what happens in the American process. To avoid boring people the story will be written in a Gonzo style, making the reader laugh as they learn. "`Fear and Loathing' let's us understand why the men we elect to the presidency may have needle tracks on their integrity” (Bryfonski, 528) As Tom Seligson, a writer for the New York Times, described "Crisscrossing the country often two times a day, stopping in hotels, shopping marts and factories in obscure Midwestern towns, Thompson might have been running for office himself.” (Bryfonski, 528) Thompson is well respected in the media. When Clinton admitted to trying marijuana but not inhaling, one of the first people called by the New York Times was Thompson. Thompson told Michael Specter (the reporter) "It's just a disgrace to an entire generation.” During the 1992 election Thompson had constant contact with the major Democratic leaders, and media heads. He was constantly faxing James Carville, Clinton's main strategist, with suggestions on how to improve Clinton's campaign. On October 2, 1992 Thompson faxed Carville with this advice, "James Carville; Was George Bush a member of the horrible Tail-Hook association? I heard he was, James – until last year when the orgies finally got out of hand. `Lets make the Bastard Deny it - LBJ, 1946'; Your welcome, HST.” He was also in constant contact with Ed Turner, Executive Vice President at CNN (no relation to Ted Turner.) Thompson was telling Ed Turner who to let on his network, and when CNN was to biased to either side.

Prior to the elections, while Bush was still in office, the Republican committee tried to bribe Thompson to work with them. Thompson, being a Democrat, was an obvious target, of someone to convert to lead trouble astray. When Thompson registered as a Republican he found his mail box stuffed with material incentives, he called goodies. He was given

"gifts, flags, photos, medals, and special delivery letters from the White House. On one day in June, I received a full-size American flag, signed by Ronald Reagan, an autographed photo of George Bush, two gold plated presidential tie tacks, a full size faux-bronze Medal of Freedom replica, a huge pyrite-slab coin with a bust of Richard Nixon on it, and a stunning engraved hologram Presidential task force laser graphite "credit card". It was amazing in less than two years time I had gone from personal enemy of the president to a position of power in Washington”(Thompson, Better than Sex, 39-40)

In addition he was given a tree in the capital Rotunda. The interest the Republicans showed toward Thompson, further demonstrate the power he holds behind the scene.

The Republican party is not the only one interested in Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson's work as a new journalist has made him the interest of several groups. His influence from his comical yet truthful writings is shown by his constant media appearances. Margaritaville Records, in honor of Thompson's best seller Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 25th anniversary, recorded certain excerpts onto a CD. It has also been rumored on and off about the making of a movie out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The most recent news is it should be released spring of 1997. Thompson was also mentioned on a trivia question on an MTV game show. Mad magazine, in the April 1997 edition showed a brief picture of him, standing next to Capote and Wolfe (page 16). Back in 1972 Crawford Woods, a writer for the New York Times, prophesied

"A man who might be dismissed as just another savage - sixties kook, were it not for the fact that he has already written himself into the history of American literature, in what I suspect will be a permanent way. Because regardless of individual reader-reactions, his hew book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a highballing, heavyweight, whose ripples spread from Huckleberry Finn to F. Scott's Rockville grave."(Bryfonski, 526).

Gonzo, evolved as a way of life for Dr. Thompson. Throughout his life, he was surrounded by rampant degradation, and excessive drugs. After completing public school, Thompson studied journalism at Columbia, in New York City, a city with a long standing tradition of being a center for scum, drugs, poverty, and the arts. From 1956-58 he was in the U.S. Air Force, where he wrote the base magazine. The army, specifically the air force, is known to have excessive drinking and gambling, because any day, they might be called to war, and die. As time went on, his various careers and positions took him around the World. In 1959 he was the New York Herald Tribune Caribbean correspondent. Next for the National Observer he was the South American correspondent. As time went on he was correspondent for the west coast, Hong Kong, and global affairs. He was a national affairs editor, columnist affairs editor, media critic, and political analyst for several European magazines. He is also President of the fourth amendment club, and ex-executive director of the Woody Creek Rod and Gun Club. As for political affiliations, he is registered in the Contemporary Author CD-ROM as an anarchist. Thompson's life has brought him close to drugs and the downfalls of society constantly. He also made an effort to be around trouble when he joined the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML;) the Hells Angels to write a book, and as a member of the Vincent Black Shadow Society.

Although some people think Hunter S. Thompson is out of control and should be stopped, "Call me Ishamael! For the whole point on this picaresque is that the American style rogue-hero must not merely tease or insult the Silent Majority, but abuse it, outrage it, twist it, hurt it, smash it…” (Bryfonski, 527) Dr. Hunter Thompson created an American style of reporting that brings humor and fun into something serious. Thompson, is a proud example of the American dream, working hard to make himself and his views count for something. His works are still read, and his books are among the most popular of the counterculture.


Hart, Jason; http://www.scrod.com/HST/

Gaughan, Thomas. "Better than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie.”, Booklist, Oct. (1994), 91:3 p187

Thompson, Hunter. Better than sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie Trapped Like a Rat in Mr. Bills Neighborhood. New York: Ransom House 1994

Thompson, Hunter. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. New York: Random House 1971

Thompson, Hunter, 72' campaign account. New York: Random House 1971

Kirn, Walter. "Better than sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie Trapped Like a Rat in Mr. Bills Neighborhood” New York 26 Sept. (1994) 27:38 p102

Marin, Rick. "The Doctor is still in: Hunter S. Thompson joins the ranks of the classics.”, Newsweek, 25 Nov. (1981) 128:22 p94

Thompson, Hunter "Trapped in Mr. Bills Neighborhood.”, Rolling Stone. 14, July (1994)

Morris, Chris. "Hunter S. Thompson brings ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas` to Island.”, Billboard. 26 Oct. (1996) 108:43 p10

O'Rourke and Ralph Steadman, "Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.”, Rolling Stone, 28 Nov. (1996) :748 p64

Contemporary Authors on CD, Thompson, Hunter Stockton

Beachmans Popular Fiction in America, Hunter S. Thompson, p1368-72

Bryfonski, Dedria. "Hunter S. Thompson.”, Contemporary Literary Criticism, 1978. p526-528