Click On Title To Link To Wikipedia's Entry For Hunter S. Thompson. Beware Of This Source For Doctor Gonzo Information. I Think He Has His Mojo Working to Disrupt Entries.
Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Doctor Hunter Thompson, Hunter Thompson and various commentators, Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2007
Generally the most the trenchant social criticism, commentary and analysis complete with a prescriptive social program ripe for implementation has been done by thinkers and writers who work outside the realm of bourgeois society, notably socialists and other progressive thinkers. Bourgeois society rarely allows itself, in self defense, to be skewered by trenchant criticism from within. This is particularly true when it comes from a known dope fiend, gun freak and all-around lifestyle addict like the late, lamented Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Nevertheless, although he was far from any thought of a socialist solution and would reject such a designation we could travel part of the way with him. We saw him as a kindred spirit. He was not one of us- but he was one of us. All honor to him for pushing the envelope of journalism in new directions and for his pinpricks at the hypocrisy of bourgeois society. Such men are dangerous.
That said, the DVD under review, complete with the “talking head” commentaries by those who knew him like his hard-pressed wife and ex-wife, Professor Douglas Brinkley and Jann Warner (of “Rolling Stone”) and pertinent readings from his works by the likes of Johnny Depp is both a valentine to his memory and a rather full exposition of his most creative years from the late 1960’s to the mid-1970’s. From his success with the still worthy book “The Hell’s Angels” about the West Coast outlaw bikers, which took him to the dark side of the counter-culture of the 1960’s, to “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas”, which took him to the dark side of the American dream, to “Fear and Loathing on Campaign Trail 1972” with his companion the “Brown Buffalo” , Oscar Acosta, which took him to the dark side of American politics he fearlessly (some would say recklessly) skewered one and all in the fight for new cultural values.
I am not sure whether at the end of the day Hunter Thompson saw himself or wanted to been seen as a voice, or the voice, of his generation but he would not be an unworthy candidate. In any case, his was not the voice of the generation of 1968 being just enough older to have been formed by an earlier, less forgiving milieu. His earlier writings show that effect. His work from South America in the early 1960's, for example, is almost straight journalism. His later best stuff was on a different order of magnitude. Only a few, and with time it seems fewer in each generation, allow themselves to search for some kind of truth even if they cannot go the whole distance. As with all journalists and in the end that was his forte, as indeed with all writers especially those who are writing under the pressure of time lines and for mass circulation media these pieces show an uneven quality. However the total effect is to blast old bourgeois society almost to its foundations. Others will have to push on further.
One should note that ‘gonzo’ journalism is quite compatible with socialist materialism. That is, the writer is not precluded from interpreting the events described within himself/herself as an actor in the story. The worst swindle in journalism, fostered by the formal journalism schools, as well as in other disciplines like history and political science is that somehow one must be ‘objective’. Reality is better served if the writer puts his/her analysis correctly and then gets out of the way. In his best, and those are mainly his early works highlighted here, that was Hunter’s way.
As a member of the generation of 1968 I would note that this was a period of particular importance which won Hunter his spurs as a journalist. Hunter, like many of us, cut his political teeth on one Richard Milhous Nixon, at one time President of the United States and all- around political chameleon. Thompson went way out of his way, and with pleasure, skewering that man when he was riding high. He was moreover just as happy to kick him when he was down, just for good measure. Nixon represented the ‘dark side’ of the American spirit- the side that appears today as the bully boy of the world and as craven brute. If for nothing else Brother Thompson deserves a place in the pantheon of journalistic heroes for this exercise in elementary political hygiene. Anyone who wants to rehabilitate THAT man before history please consult Thompson’s work. Hunter, I hope you find the Brown Buffalo wherever you are. Damn, the 2008 campaign, despite the hoopla, was boring without your knife. Watch this DVD. And then read his books.