Thoughts on Gonzo Journalism in the Trump-era

In spending some time this morning jotting down and doing quick Google searches on Gonzo, I came across an article saying that it had no place in the Trump-era because we need the presence of true and proven facts more than ever, and not alternative ones; “true” journalism. While I don’t disagree with any points made inherently, I did want to share some thoughts on this.

I honestly believe that Gonzo Journalism has been hijacked by many to celebrate the psychadelic quirkiness of it’s father, Hunter S. Thompson. What I found in trying to look up more recent Gonzo writers, or bloggers, was a few trying only to replicate the wild and crazy drug stories, tattoos of Thompson quotes and not much else. I’m genuinely disappointed in that if only because there really is potential in the genre that is going untouched, only to serve as a way to sharpen some assholes edginess with Hunter Thompson’s coke mirror.

I do wholeheartedly believe that journalists need to report things with some factual evidence, especially now that there’s been such a wave in fake news serving to stir up fanatics in the heart of rural American; to tell them “It’s okay — you’re right to be afraid and angry, just take our word for it!”. I also think that the rise in popularity of the satire medium is not something that should be ignored because it’s not only a good coping method but a great tool for education on certain issues at the heart of the Trump-era. This kind of laughing-to-keep-from-crying, meeting-a-stranger’s-eyes-and-seeing-the-same-frustration feeling is something that the Gonzo genre could easily be using as a base. Instead, there seems to be a whole lot of drugs and inflammatory trolling without a hint of the political criticisms that Hunter S. Thompson had in his work.

Back then the issues he spoke on primarily were the War on Drugs, Vietnam, and the Nixon administration, later speaking through the Reagan years and on into W. Bush about the death of the American Dream and a resentment towards the establishment prior to his death (I’m obviously simplifying these issues, reading his work would prove more worthwhile). Nowadays we seem every day closer to a new war, but no one knows how it will happen, how it will end, and here at home the United States is becoming steadily more divided. Millennials like myself have been saddled with the responsibility of a country that may be falling inward, and in all our different voices it is our job to share experiences and help one another in order to make it. Gonzo could easily serve to give a voice to the marginalized and the working class, rather than shock value.

So here I am in a coffee shop in the Wedgewood area of Seattle, about a block away from the house I share with 6 other people, having rolled out of bed and immediately set to writing about this because my anxiety told me I felt the need to, and I’ve learned to find hope in Gonzo. I genuinely think that this genre could be used for more than it is, especially during the Trump-era. Sharing anecdotes you may not have wanted to hear but listen to anyways is an American tradition, after all. Why not wake some people up?