Tuesday, February 22, 2005

If you can't say anything nice...

Sometimes you still have to say it.

So, I am going to comment on the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson. I read his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972 in college, after having seen Johnny Depp portray him in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I wanted to see if Hunter S. Thompson was really as much of a jackass Mr. Depp made him out to be. I wanted to see if he matched Garry Trudeau's version of Thompson, a goofy libertine by the name of Duke.

If anything, both fictional versions of Duke are slightly more sympathetic than Hunter S. Thompson himself. Hunter S. Thompson was indeed a jackass. I remember hearing the college chumps at Southern Illinois in the English and Journalism departments who wanted to be the next Hunter S. Thompson. I couldn't have found a more idiotic herd of fools. Apparently, they figured that drinking heavily and even heavier drug use would turn them into some kind of one-man journalistic apocalypse.

And everyone wonders why Southern Illinois University has so many people who leave school without graduating. We've got a bunch of kids who think that dropping tab after tab of acid, smoking any weed they can find, and drinking everything stronger than beer is a path to graduating and getting a good job. I was at SIU from 1998 to 2000, and yet it seemed like everyone who wasn't in the science, economics, business and engineering departments tried to pretend like it was 1969 and 1970. Even my history department was filled with at least five or six of these hemp-wearing, "mind-expanding," gonzo-journalist wannabes. (The fact that they were a bunch of vegtetarians who tried to be a meat-eating acid monkey is still pretty funny, though.) I wasn't even born then, and neither were most of these pathetic little twerps trying to be the next Thompson. Yet there they were, trying to be the same counterculture that attempted to hijack American society.

Hunter S. Thompson wasn't a brilliant journalist. He was a drug-abusing hack with a political axe to grind, wrapped up in a package that was meant to shock and alarm. Shocking? Not anymore, thanks to the glut of imitators. Alarming? No, just disappointing, again thanks to a glut of imitators. He's ruined a journalistic tradition because of the overexposure of his style by a bunch of hacks. I'm quite glad he's dead. Perhaps his style will die with him now that these writers will have to find someone else who's living to fawn over and worship.

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