The Big Lebowski
I recently overheard a guy in his early 20s describing a movie to a group of his friends. “And then,” said the guy, “the main guy goes to a house where there is some kind of beach orgy thing going on. He tries to spy on the pornographer by tracing his pad, but all it shows is that the pornographer drew a picture of a naked dude.”
His friendsdeployed the kind of laugh you use when someone is talking about a movie you haven’t seen, and you just want him to shut the fuck up.
I felt old. These kids didn’t know The Dude.
The Big Lebowski might be distinct from all other art in its ability to link me to the rest of my generation. Or at least the people I would want to know in my generation. We might not have had Woodstock (or at least the Woodstock that Sha Na Na performed at), and We Are the World came around when we were pretty young, but we sure as shit have the Dude.
My friend Dan, whose Walter Sobchak Halloween costume was nonpariel (an un-Dude word, if I’ve ever heard one), just sent me this article from the New York Times. Lebowski has been given the academic treatment in a new book. Any volume that can describe (accuse?) the Dude of having “Trotskian positionality” must be worth the read.
One thing the Times says about the book kind of annoyed me.
When putting the book together, Mr. Comentale said, he and his co-editor “immediately cut out all the papers celebrating the Dude as a hippie hero in a postmodern landscape.” That’s a sober choice. Admirers of the Dude are already dangerously close to becoming Internet-age versions of Parrotheads, the weekend-warrior Jimmy Buffett fans who tip back margaritas — and embarrass their children — while wearing flip-flops, board shorts, Hawaiian shirts and coconut bras.
It seems like there is some kind of bias against the middle class, or at least against being un-cool. But Donnie, Walter and the Dude are not cool. They’re bowlers, for crying out loud.
I love this movie. I may watch it tonight.