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Hunter Stockton Thompson And His Effect On Journalism In The 20th Century

2990 words - 12 pages

Please Insert TitleHunter Stockton Thompson was an anomaly; he was a journalist and a perjurer, a patriot and a traitor, he revolutionized his industry and dragged its name though the mud. Thompson was many things throughout his life from a juvenile delinquent to a celebrity, and even a would be politician, but through it all he was a journalist. His style of "Gonzo" journalism let the reader experience some of the most significant societal and political events in America from the 1960's to the early 2000's through his biased and often distorted view, all the while watching as his dreams and ideals about the country he loved slipped farther and farther out of reach. His unique and ever changing writing, and life, impacted pop culture and political discourse alike. He spent his life fighting for what he believed in, attempting to point the spotlight he drew to himself at the parts of our society that threatened his dream for a better world.Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 18, 1939. After his father's death when he was 14 his mother fell deep into poverty, and alcoholism. As a teenager he was a delinquent and while in high school he was arrested for stealing someone's wallet, given the choice between the military or prison he joined the air force. While in the armed forces he worked as a sports writer for the military newspaper at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. After leaving the air force he moved forward with his career as a sports correspondent; a fairly straight forward path until he was assigned to write a story about the Kentucky derby in June of 1970.The product of this assignment, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," was far from the story Hunter set out to write. Instead of a review of the race Thompson sent his editors an almost rambling first person account of the people he and his partner Ralph Steadman met at the derby. Often seen as the birth of Thompson's signature Gonzo style the story exists as a nearly unbroken anecdote, so full of hyperbole, simile, and metaphor that it blurs the lines between journalistic opinion, rhetorical grandstanding, and pure fiction. Exaggeration may be the tool most commonly employed in Thompson's writing, taking the wrongs he saw in the world and describing them in grotesque detail; playing up their flaws until they appear as literal monsters in the readers mind. In this piece he describes his own face, haggard after a rough few days, as "a Puffy, drink-ravaged, disease-ridden caricature…like an awful cartoon version of an old snapshot in some once-proud mother's ,family photo album."(Kentucky Derby 19) Within these hyperbolic descriptions he uses simile and metaphor to great effect, describing those around him as "sick moles"(19) and the race itself as "a big outdoor looney bin."(9)Buried in the ranting nature of the paper Thompsons purpose is starting to become clear, throughout his career he sought to cast light on the parts of society he saw as broken, a...

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