TABLOID WORLD SERVICE

WEDNESDAY
MAY 27, 1998

TAKE OUR
DAMNED
SURVEY!
Click Here!

Front Page:

JAPAN'S DR.
DEATH WEEPS
FOR MERCY

More News:

LUNATIC
THREATENS
TO KILL
HOWARD
STERN!

FEAR AND
LOATHING
AT THE
MOVIES

GET TABLOID
VIA E-MAIL!
enter your e-mail

Foto:

ALBINO
KOALA
BUDDY!

Bad Planet:

KILLED
BY VIAGRA!

59-YEAR-OLD
MOM HAS
TWINS!

PORN FOR
JESUS!

POLISH
COPS NAB
GHOSTS!

76-YEAR-OLD
MARRIES
TEEN GAL!

DON'T CALL
IT EL NINO!

CHINESE
KIDS ARE
FATSOS!

AMAZON.COM

Bulletin:

LAYNE'S
MISSING
COLUMN

HORNBERGER
AND THE
WORLD
OF RIOTS

Mailbag

E-Mail
Edition

SEARCH!

Yesterday's
Issue

Hornberger

Layne

TABLOID
REPORTS:

War in
Kosovo

Hank the
Dwarf!


Subscribe!

Info

Ad Rates

Send E-mail

Home


1997-98
Tabloid News
Services, Inc.

THE BULLETIN
    MATT WELCH

Madness Is No Longer Fashionable

"I think we both understood, all along, that we were running a hell of risk by laying a sixties trip on Las Vegas in 1971 ... and that neither one of us would ever pass this way again. So we pushed it as far as we could, and we survived - which means something, I guess, but not much beyond a good story."

-- unused jacket copy,
reprinted in "The Great Shark Hunt"

Attaching broad significance to the book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a bad idea. Thompson called it "a failed experiment," "only half-successful," "a victim of its own conceptual schizophrenia," "manic gibberish," and only occasionally, "a vile epitaph for the Drug Culture of the Sixties."

It mostly succeeds as a glowing example of one the greatest writers of our time riffing at the zenith of his typing powers (it was experienced and written during the preparation of one of Thompson's best and most sober-minded magazine pieces, a staggering account of the Chicano movement called "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan"). It's the only book I've ever read that makes me laugh out loud on the tenth and eleventh readings, and indeed most of the movie's funniest moments are direct transcriptions from the book, in the form of voice-overs or dialogue.

But -- let's face it, not everyone thinks it's funny when two grown men drive down the Las Vegas strip dumbfounded on narcotics, vomiting on themselves and the side of their convertible while screaming "You wanna buy some heroin?!!" at some perfectly nice brainless couples out for a gambling holiday. Some people don't laugh when seeing every woman on screen terrorized and/or pounced upon like animals, or watching two ugly men throw pocket-change tips on the ground for the hired help to scrounge after.

NOT FOR EVERYONE, HO HO!This is humor for boys, boys with too much energy and anger; boys who feel shut out of life's five-star hotels, and who get a rise out of seeing their tormentors horrified.

Our tastes as a culture -- the nation's tastes, as it were -- have moved beyond the humor of trashing hotel rooms. We want our celluloid drug use to follow a tidy slide downhill, hit rock bottom and then start the apologies as the orchestra strings well up. Or better yet, we want smack-as-retro artifact in a story of two-bit hustlers from the '70s.

We would like our movies to have plot and meaning, of course, and http://tabloid.net/1998/05/26/">Yesterday's Issue] [Send Mail] [Home] [Search]

 
s?

Gilliam has staged a lovely Viking Funeral for the vapidity of our cinema and politics at the end of Nineties. No clever Wagging of the Dog, no know-it-all direction from Mike Nichols, no crocodile tears from Tim Robbins -- this is unsweetened and vaguely malignant filth. You can almost hear John Waters giggling in the pay toilets.

The film, alas, will also likely sear Thompson's image forever in the minds of the public as That Drug Guy. Because of his insatiable addiction to $10,000 lecture fees, Thompson has been squeezing money out of this unlikely rant for more than two decades, even though he knows it has seriously wounded his art. The kids in Madison don't want him to talk about South America, or Ruben Salazar, or Jean-Claude Killy, or most of the subjects he made shine between 1962-1974. Even his recent resurrection as an Ivy League-stamped Man of Letters hasn't shaken his image as Drug Clown, and now the movie seems to have sealed the deal.

On the other hand, some shaky but talented 17-year-old kid is going to go see the Johnny Depp movie, groove to the kinky humor, buy the books and go work for the college paper, where he will begin using words like "cazart," capitalizing phrases such as Bad Craziness, and start sentences with "Hell, even ..."

There are, indeed, Worse Things.


Matt Welch used to be TABLOID's Cuba correspondent, but he was kicked off the island for a variety of mistakes.






[Front Page] [World News] [Bad Planet]
[Bad Planet II] [Bulletin] [Hornberger] [Layne]
[Foto] [Mailbag] [Advertise] [TABLOID Info]
[Yesterday's Issue] [Send Mail] [Home] [Search]