January 26, 2002
11:51 PM   Subscribe

Great article about the decline of obituary writing in American journalism. Notable obits it names include Hunter Thompson's unflattering rendition of Nixon and H.L. Mencken's scathing posthumous indictment of William Jennings Bryan.

Should we go back to obits like these? Damn right we should, says suck.com.
posted by Yelling At Nothing (10 comments total)
The link to the Nixon obituary seems to be broken - it can be found here.
posted by Chanther at 12:15 AM on January 27, 2002

Funny, I didn't think Suck said much of anything anymore.
posted by waxpancake at 1:13 AM on January 27, 2002

*sniff* I miss Suck. What other publication would ever have found common ground between Hunter S. Thompson and Tricky Dick?

Has obituary writing truly declined? I certainly can't ever recall a time when writing scathing, attack obits was the norm in journalism. I think that the pieces by Mencken and Thompson were aberrations, unfortunately.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:42 AM on January 27, 2002

And glorious aberrations they were, too. I think Mencken's obit of WJB was one of the most amazing feats of American writing I've seen in quite a while. If I were teaching AP American literature, I'd try to inflict it on my students.

Come to think of it, it would be a good reading assignment for AP American history, because high-school kids ought to know who Bryan was and the pivotal role he played in politics as America emerged from an agrarian nation into a modern urban one.
posted by alumshubby at 7:42 AM on January 27, 2002

Don't forget Ayn Rand's bizarre and venerating obituary for Marilyn Monroe, titled "Through Your Most Grievous Fault".
posted by pjdoland at 8:03 AM on January 27, 2002

That Bryan obit is the best evocation of red vs. blue I have yet seen.

Couldn't find a better red-vs-blue map. Where have they all gone?
posted by rodii at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2002

rodii: Except for what is, in effect, a reversal of the economic policy stances of both sides (and the vote was a lot closer in 2002 in the states than the red-blue map suggests, regardless). More here.
posted by raysmj at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2002

Ray, I'm just talking about the cultural divide, not the parties.
posted by rodii at 1:44 PM on January 27, 2002

The economic stances is part of the cultural divide - or is tied in with it, and you'd have to blind or Andrew Sullivan not to notice.
posted by raysmj at 3:55 PM on January 27, 2002

Or "are" part of the divide, rather. This historical swapping of sides is something that I've read about for eons and still haven't sorted out. But it's swept under the rug (as is the fact that Bryan had, oh, just a wee bit of help from progressive forces in the fight for Prohibition, as mentioned in an earlier thread).
posted by raysmj at 3:59 PM on January 27, 2002

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