Hunter S. Thompson always took the road less traveled in his journalism career, and with his innovative writing style, charismatic personality, and anti-establishment beliefs he became a counter culture hero.
When his article The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved (part of the article is in the textbook, pages 198-201) was published in the June issue of Scanlan’s Monthly his unique style had yet to be named but eventually the tag of “Gonzo Journalism” stuck. Thompson’s journalistic style was characterized by first person narratives, satirical devices, and the frequent use of drugs and alcohol. All of these blended together to create a grittier and often times more engaging story than other journalists of the time.
Thompson would go on to have three novels published, most notably Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a drug riddled retelling of his experience covering the Mint 400 desert race in March 1971. In 1998 the novel was turned into a film, starring Johnny Depp as the Thompson character. During the research for the role Depp and Thompson became good friends.
Hunter S. Thompson took his own life at the age of 67 amid various health problems. Artist and longtime collaborator Ralph Steadman said about his friends suicide” He told me 25 years ago that he would feel real trapped if he didn’t know that he could commit suicide at any moment. I don’t know if that is brave or stupid or what, but it was inevitable.”
Hunter S. Thompson is one of the most influential journalists of all time, and with another movie based on his novel The Rum Diaries it appears he will continue influencing journalists and writers for years to come.