Hunter S Thompson: The Strangest Hero of American Journalism

Happy Thursday!

I was watching the PBS youtube series “Blank on Blank” which is in their words,

“Vintage interview tapes. New Animations.  We transform journalists’ unheard interviews with cultural icons. The future of journalism is remixing the past.”

I ran across the Hunter S. Thompson interview.

 

Which prompted me to rewatch the documentary “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride” which was about HST and his life.

As a young writer, I like many admired the work of Thompson and likely I’m not the only one who he inspired to want to get into journalism.  Hunter had a fearless, fucking crazy, ferocious attitude towards life and applied that to his journalism.  Hunter rode with the Hell’s Angles(1) as a topic for one of his earlier books of the same name “Hell’s Angles”, he developed a antagonist bordering-on “super hero v super villain” arch-nemesis type relationship with then usa president Richard Nixon.

The following is an excerpt from Hunter S Thompson’s Obituary to Richard Nixon, He was a Crook: A scathing obituary of Richard Nixon, originally published in Rolling Stone on June 16, 1994″.  The whole thing can be found here at The Atlantic.

Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”

I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.

Nixon laughed when I told him this. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you.”

USA journalism today could use a hero like Hunter S Thompson. With his death, journalism lost it’s hunger for the bloody raw truth and razor sharp teeth which to rip it from the layers of BS covering it.

As Hunter once described his artist friend, Ralph Steadmen, “Too weird to live, too rare to die.” Which can just as easily be applied to Hunter him self.  The world we live in full of rising nationalism, sinking empathy, and ubiquitous confusion needs now more than ever a shining beacon of light that radiates from cultural folk heroes like Thompson.

However if we keep waiting for superman, we might live long enough to learn that “Today a stampede killed superman.”

 

Even though Hunter was a self described rebel, I think this lyric encompasses his philosophy about freedom: “Tonight I burn my bookshelf to be free
Because even a rebel tradition is slavery”.

The world still misses you, Hunter.  You might be gone but your hellish spirit will never die in the hearts of the truly free.

 

Footnotes:

  1. A usa motorcylce gang, quite violent and very scary lot. I actually have a personal story about the Hell’s Angles but that’s for another time maybe.
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About Fin

I an university student at UMSL and will be filling my life long dream to travel abroad via studying at Lancaster University, UK as an exchange student from October 2016 - June 2017. Also, just for the record, I really really dislike Gravitar and would love it if wordpress offered a non-gravitar option.

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