Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hunter S Thompson - Gonzo Journalism and the 1960s and 1970s

Hunter S.Image via Wikipedia

Hunter S Thompson and the Birth of Gonzo by Russell Shortt

Hunter S Thompson created Gonzo journalism - a style of journalistic writing that blurs the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. It is written subjectively and often includes the reporter as part of the story, via a first person narrative.

Indeed, the writer is the central figure of the story, with everything circling around them with personal experiences and emotions being used to provide context for the story. Clear editing is abandoned, creating a gritty, real-time, in the zone read and exaggeration and profanity is par for the course. Gonzos believe that truth in journalism can be achieved while writing objectively.

The term was first used by Bill Cardoso, editor of the Boston Globe magazine, when he described Hunter S Thompson's "Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" which was included in the June 1970 edition of Scanlon's Monthly as pure 'Gonzo'. Cardoso claimed that Gonzo was South Boston slang for the last man standing after an all night drinking marathon. Gonzo Journalism can be seen as an offshoot of the New Journalism movement of the sixties which was led by Tom Wolfe.

Thompson was an enigmatic figure - reclusive and often unintelligible in conversation but a writer of genius who was a mammoth in political criticism who could define entire movements in his sprawling articles. He will always be linked with the hippie counterculture of the sixties for his ruthless hounding of the Nixon administration and his wholesome consumption of psychedelic drugs. Both Bill Murray and Johnny Depp (both who became close, trusted friends of Thompson) both portrayed him on screen in Where the Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas respectively.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland.

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