Working Through Hunter S. Thompson's Strange and Terrible Saga

Jennifer Hagen Forsberg

Abstract


The subjective and participatory method of New Journalism provides practitioner Hunter S. Thompson access to the kinds of creative, cultural   entrepreneurship seen in postwar American narratives. In his reported and written “work,” Thompson not only self-consciously performs class personas, but markets those identities as a model of enterprise through creative economy. Thompson’s critical perspective and status position approximates what sociologists call a “cultural omnivore,” someone who consumes all forms of culture, but who reproduces a position of privilege in doing so. In Hell’s Angels (1966), Thompson uses the privilege granted by omnivoracity to transform the limitations of the worker-writer into a commodifiable and safe identity that can access and reign over other social groups.  By prioritizing his status as “pro,” Thompson manipulates the symbolic and cultural capital of class identity, providing himself an opportunity to feature individual over collective politics. Yet to accomplish this, Thompson relies on representing—and exploiting—the working class. Thompson exemplifies the class performative aspect of a working persona that is able to attain cultural domination through the manipulation of working-class identities in literary markets.

Keywords


Hunter S. Thompson, cultural omnivore, celebrity, working-class identity, representation

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/ps2015vol1no2art470

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