"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
-- unused jacket copy,
reprinted in "The Great
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.
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
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
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