Sunday, May 05, 2013

Disappointed in NPR for furthering the cult of Hunter Thompson

I really don't care for the cult of Hunter Thompson. In my view, he was a somewhat talented writer who quickly became a prisoner of his own persona. His drug-addicted life and sad end, at his own hand, seem like ample testimony to the emptiness of the gonzo way. So I was most disappointed today when NPR had a long, fawning story on his original Kentucky Derby "reporting".

Although it can be occasionally amusing to read some of his way-over-the-top prose, I associate Hunter Thompson with a couple of very negative things. One is a variation on the suffering artist myth, a pop-culture notion even more over-worked than the Thompson cult. In his case, the suffering was expressed not in terms of years of material sacrifice for his muse, but rather the fact that he lost his personhood, as he became a persona (a more highbrow version of Michael Jackson). Second is a relentlessly cynical and reductive view of life. Corrosive skepticism has its place, but completely undiluted it is a little too potent.


  1. I actually intend to read Fear and Loathing because I don't really know who this guy is and I'm always hearing these references! I know what you mean though - Michael Jackson is a prime example. The hagiography has made me ill for decades and I can't understand why it continues!

  2. To be clear, I don't know what the heck the phrase 'gonzo journalism' is supposed to mean.