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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Essay on "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey Into the Heart of the American Dream"

            In “The Last Modernist: Hunter S. Thompson and the White Logic”, John W. Crowley described Thompson as a person who had written most of his life.  He stated that Thompson would have been a prolific writer were it not for his addiction to alcohol and drugs.  He emphasized that drugs and alcohol had always been a part of Thompson’s life.  He also described Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” as a story of Raoul Duke and his Attorney Dr. Gonzo’s search for the American Dream in Las Vegas.  But he dismissed the work as something which lacks taste and should not be given any serious attention.  He described the characters in the story as stereotypical virtually implying that it lacked originality and substance.  He also cautioned those who praise “Fear and Loathing” saying that his work is inferior to Nathanael West’s “The Day of the Locust”  and works of other authors such as An American Dream, Why Are We in Vietnam, The Armies of the Night, Miami and the Siege of Chicago. 
            I disagree with Crowley’s statements against Hunter S. Thompson.  Thompson was one of the leading journalists of his time.  Through his frank style and writing he was able to expose everything that was wrong with the United States.  He also contributed immensely to the development of a new Journalism movement that revolutionized how reporting and writing of events should be made. (Talena S. Brayer 2)

Under the Gonzo journalism, emphasis was made on the rawness of the data.  The articles he wrote were often unedited and outrageous because these articles were not polished.  But at the same time these articles were also brilliant truth came out with the use of this new method of journalism that he advocated.  Indeed, Thompson destroyed the difference between reporter and the story itself with his Gonzo journalism. According to Talena Brayer, “As an outlaw journalist who never played by the rules, Hunter S. Thompson paved the way for contemporary journalists to have more involvement in their stories and allowing the readers to, therefore, grasp a better sense of happenings and situations.” (3)

Moreover, Fear and Loathing was a reflection of the real status of American politics during his time.  While it was loaded with accounts of drugs and alcohol, Thompson also exposed in his own way the wrongdoings by politicians.

            Thompson also wrote a great deal about the search for the American dream.  Thompson, just like any person, at first wholeheartedly believed in the American Dream.  The American dream is the embodiment of the dreams and aspirations of every man and woman who lived in the United States.  It is an infatuation with the idea that it is possible to rise to fame and fortune in America.  

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            However, Thompson made the people realize the absurdity of the situation in American during the 1960s and the 1970s.  He made the public realize that the American dream is dead and that the people’s infatuation with politicians, American politics and their promises that they can change the life of every American was like a bubble that was ready to burst anytime.  He urged the American public to come to their senses and realize where America is heading because of the over-reliance of the people on the politicians. (Hunter S. Thompson 2) Through the Fear and Loathing, Thompson also exposed the myth of the American Dream which he thought was already dead.  Whereas during the 1960s the people believed in hard work to reach the American dream, the people during his time no longer believed in hard work. (Robert Sickels 1) Instead, the people were lured to the bright lights and empty promises of the casinos in Las Vegas.  Actually, the situation today has become much worse.  Casinos are now part of the United States culture.  They have appeared like mushrooms in Nevada, in other states in the United States and even in countries like Macao.  The casino phenomenon is everywhere and is unstoppable. 

This was the reason why the main characters in the Fear and Loathing could not find the American Dream they were looking.  What they found was a place that had been burned down several years before with tall grass and where pushers and addicts hang out.  Indeed, the American Dream is dead.  What is worse is that the phenomenon is spreading.  If Thompson said that America has been “Las Vegasized.”  Nowadays, it can be said that the world has been “Las Vegasized.”  This phenomenon has serious repercussions in the value system of any system.  One of its serious repercussions is that people no longer rely on working hard to earn real money.  Since the creation of the casinos, artistic and cultural development has been stunted. 

            Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas may appear to be full of cynicism, frustration and despair.  However, this powerful writing style was merely employed by Thompson to ensure that the readers will understand the absurdity of their situation.  He only wanted to make sure that the public will come to their senses using his method.  Thompson was not actually cynical.  He merely wanted to emphasize that change will not come unless the people will change their ways of thinking.  He had a noble goal which is to wake up the American public from their slumber so that they could take action for themselves and realize that their dreams could not be found inside casinos and gambling locations.  

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