Disentangling Meaning in Hunter S. Thompson’s Journalism
Drawing on theories of subjectivity and authorship from Derrida, Foucault and Barthes, key themes of Gonzo journalism are considered, including edgework, representations of drug use, ideas of professional objectivity in political journalism, sports in American culture and ‘the death of the American Dream’. It is considered in wider social, political and historical contexts and in terms of boundaries of reportable experience and of objectivity and/or journalism.
Matthew Winston’s study provides a critical commentary and a theoretical exploration of how Gonzo can be read as destabilising conventional ideas of journalism itself, in its peculiarly unclassifiable nature.
This book is designed to be read by postgraduates and scholars in journalism, cultural studies and media and communication. It is also suitable as an undergraduate text dealing with journalism theory, literary journalism, sports journalism, the New Journalism and the wider historical contexts of American journalism.
Chapter Four: Shallow, Contemptible, and Hopelessly Dishonest
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Anybody who thinks that ‘it doesn’t matter who’s President’ has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World—or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property—or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons—or locked up in Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.
—Thompson, Hey Rube, 2005b, p. 244
So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here—not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.
—Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72, 1983, p. 48
THE nature of Gonzo journalism, and its complex relationship with ideologies of objective journalism, is further complicated in some respects by the nature of discourses around the political sphere. One of the most prominent problems for theorising political journalism is, of course, that of ‘bias’. Subjectivity, under its criminal alias, ‘bias’, is taboo in serious political discourse. This is not an absolute law, but it...
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