Gonzo journalism

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The gonzo journalism was from the American writer and journalist Hunter S. Thompson early 1970s founded years. Similar to New Journalism , objectivity is not a hallmark of gonzo journalism. Instead, the gonzo journalist puts his own experience in the foreground. He writes radically subjectively , with strong emotions and deliberate exaggeration. The line between real and fictional experiences can become blurred. Sarcasm , swear words , polemics , humor and quotes are used as style elements . According to journalistic criteria, gonzo journalism is not journalism , but literature .

The gonzo fist , a clenched hand with two thumbs holding a peyote cactus , became a symbol of Hunter S. Thompson and gonzo journalism.


The first Gonzo article was The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved . It appeared in Warren Hinckle's short-lived magazine Scanlan's Monthly in 1970 . Thompson hadn't gotten to writing his article by the time we went to press. In order to be able to at least send something to the editorial office, he was forced to send his unedited notes. The text did not report on the horse race as instructed, but on the atmosphere of the derby and the author's antics. Thompson's colleague Bill Cardoso then called the result Gonzo .

According to Thompson, Cardoso's words were:

“Forget all this shit you've been writing, this is it; this is pure gonzo. If this is a start, keep rolling. "

“Forget all that shit you've written, that's it; this is pure gonzo. If this is a start, move on. "

According to Cardoso himself, however, his words were:

“I don't know what the fuck you're doing, but you've changed everything. It's totally gonzo. "

“I don't know what the hell you're doing, but you changed everything. It's completely gonzo. "

The adjective gonzo is now since then as an English slang -expression for "extraordinary," "eccentric" or "crazy" - and "clearly influenced by the feelings of the author" with respect to journalism around for, "filled with bizarre or subjective ideas , Comments and the like ”. The further origin of the word is controversial.

Through his further work, Thompson became the most important representative of gonzo journalism. He defined the gonzo style for himself as a "professional rampage". The journalist wants to write about a certain event, which in extreme cases, should it not occur at all, can be arranged by himself. Extras can be developed into main characters.

In 1971 Thompson traveled to Las Vegas to find out how his ( hippie- inspired) view of the American dream still exists. Then in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (literally: "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") he described both his personal failure and the failure of the American dream, embedded in a world of experience of excessive drug use and provoked chaos. 1972 Thompson accompanied the American presidential election campaign (among others with Edmund Muskie , George McGovern and Richard Nixon ). The following year he published his collection of articles Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 , in which he relentlessly exposed the intrigues, excesses and mechanisms of the political power struggle.

Gonzo journalism today

After the 1998 film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas , Thompson's work enjoyed a huge surge in popularity. Through the technology of the new media , e.g. For example, in weblogs , gonzo journalism is currently experiencing a renaissance.

Today's representatives of this style in German-speaking countries are Helge Timmerberg , who was characterized in the taz as “heir to Hunter S. Thompson and a master of gonzo journalism”, and Dennis Gastmann , who sees himself as a gonzo journalist.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See the meaning given by Duden online : "very subjective, emotional, exaggerated journalism".
  2. ^ A b The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. (PDF; 207 kB) Accessed May 30, 2014 (English).
  3. a b c Martin Hirst: What Is Gonzo? The Etymology of an Urban Legend University of Queensland, January 19, 2004.
  4. See information on gonzo in English dictionaries, quoted at wordreference.com
  5. Per High Peak into Glück taz.de, June 2, 2003.
  6. ^ Website of Dennis Gastmann .
  7. See profile of Dennis Gastmann on Twitter with the keywords "Author, adventurer, Gonzo".