Those Who’ve read even a little bit of Hunter S. Thompson know that his style of journalism is, well, unorthodox. There isn’t much room for factual evidence in his writing, and it lends itself to a schizophrenic meandering around different topics, that don’t always seem to have a cohesive whole. A number of his pieces begin with the three words, “Fear and Loathing” and most know of his book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. That’s often exactly what Thompson’s reporting style is, just a stream of incongruous and scary circumstances, that don’t solicit a realistic idea. So how did he get a job writing as a Journalist?
Well For one he revolutionized journalism, creating what has been coined as “Gonzo Journalism” which is a style of journalism that focuses on the use of first person narrative to relay its information. Thompson uses satire to further prove his points, and by doing so can remove factuality from his pieces, which until around the 70’s was not a common theme. His manner of speaking is fast paced and loaded with qualifying details that further the “plot” of his articles.
His style took off because of how different, and funny it was, this technique involved him talking like a drug crazed fiend for the duration of his articles, leaving people breathless with both the frequency and differentiation that could occur from one page to the next. Thompson’s hyperbolized and counter culture narrator was enjoyable to read now even if you didn’t know what he was talking about, and the masses eat that up. People love to see someone doing things they themselves would never dare to do.
Thompson would often submit his pieces to editors only hours before publication, early enough to make the print, but to late to edit. it wasn’t simply an immature pride though, his reasoning was, “”I don’t get any satisfaction out of the old traditional journalist’s view: ‘I just covered the story. I just gave it a balanced view” he said for an online edition of The Atlantic that he placed an article in. He believed that objective journalism was antiquated, and allowed for corruption to spread through his craft. “You can’t be objective about Nixon” he said in the same interview.
Thompson’s writing is multi-faceted and elusively, theatrically, rhetorical. He writes in similes that convey with impressive accuracy a situation, without having to actual contrive any real dialogue between characters. His ability to create a chaotic scene of drug abuse and crazed thought still be journalistic and thought provoking gives him more than enough propriety in the literary sphere. Many would deny his right to credibility as a news source, but few can argue that his writing is uniquely superb.
It’s no surprise that in a country like America you find us readily eating up Thompson’s style. George Washington, a founding father, widely agreed with the planting of hemp seeds, Methamphetamine was used as a treatment for depression in the past, Quaaludes were still legal until 1982, and up until 1976 chloroform was a legal cough medicine. We’re a nation that’s had a long history of drug exploitation, and to deny that, would be to deny Thompson’s own popularity. For indeed, that magnetic quality that taboo has, must certainly be a significant reason for Thompson’s success.
In short, though Thompson’s writing style is different from the reporters that came before him, though he can be factual negligible, though he doesn’t even think about himself as a reporter, and though he rarely attempts to reconstruct entire scenes for consumption by the public, he still found himself a journalist. So how did he get his job? He invigorated a style. He played off of what he already knew the public wanted, which is exactly what it claims to despise. He connected people to his work with comedy, and made them invested in a narrator that was wholly amoral. These things, along with a strong control of language, and consistent quality pieces created a niche all his own. Thompson grew into his style and filled a need, so that he could essentially do whatever he wanted to with his work.