When a friend recommended Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I raised a sceptical eyebrow. And this friend of mine (let’s call him Oscar) told me the book was a modern literary classic. A must-read. So last weekend, I put Angela Carter aside, to read the novel that’s been delighting drug addicts and wannabe journalists for forty years. And, well – I thought it was a bit crap.
This novel is supposed to have kick-started a trend amongst writers called “gonzo” journalism – where you write the news about yourself instead of reporting the objective facts. Missing the point, somewhat? But this isn’t a book review. I’m writing about the Vegas book because I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among Thompson fans to imitate his style.
For some amateur “journalists” – and I’m sorry to say this is true – that means taking loads of drugs and writing about their “experiences”! I mean, honestly. On this very campus, as well! Do they really think anybody cares about the revelatory, revolutionary ideas they had with their last joint? I know I don’t. Now, I’m as liberal as the next man when it comes to drugs. I don’t like them myself, but I say live and let live. But taking them is one thing – it’s quite another to delude oneself into thinking that you suddenly become a “creative type” if you do it.
It’s yet another myth about drugs that needs to be exploded. I consider myself a fine writer, and yet you don’t see me “dosing up” and “tripping” every weekend. Why would anyone want to be like Hunter S. Thompson? He wrote one notable book, and it’s overrated. It’s only “cool” because he does drugs in it. OH MY GOD, STOP THE PRESSES.
Drugs may be many things, but they aren’t cool (in my humble opinion). Thompson was addicted to drugs, and he was addicted to drink. He killed himself eventually. He shot himself in the head, because he couldn’t take it any more. Is that “cool”? I don’t think so. Is that the kind of role model that modern writers should aspire to be? A broken shell of a man with one half decent book to their name? That’s not for me, thanks.
Gonzo journalism was not a new genre, as many like to think. It was a trend. You don’t see the Independent doing it now, do you? Who keeps this “gonzo” rubbish alive? Hippie amateur students, that’s who. They think they’re big shot writers, and secretly wish they were Thompson. It’s base idolisation. I would say the drugs screwed with enough people’s minds to make them think he’d written a “classic”. Hunter S. Thompson is my new least favourite author. Not because of what he wrote, but because of what he represents. Idiocy. These days, you even see people dressed as him on Halloween. Does that scream “talented, successful writer”, or “drug addled psycho”? That’s how much real impact he had. That shows you how much of a “literary classic” the book is. If Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas represents a pinnacle of modern journalism, I’ll stick to my copy of the Indy and ride out the storm, thank you very much.