Monday, February 18, 2008

Class Struggle in "The Big Lebowski"

After reading what Chuck posted about how there are elements of a class stuggle present in "The Big Lebowski" I really got to thiniing about this and found that class differences are present throughout the entire movie. Clearly the "real" Lebowski, Jacky Treehorn, and Maude Lebowski are representative of the highest social class, while the Dude and his associates are on the lower end of the spectrum. These class differences can be seen throughout the movie. In the case of The Dude and his friends Donny and Walter, their social status can be observed by their hobby of bowling. Bowling is one of the central themes in this movie and is important because it is viewed as a working man's sport, which is illustrated by the bowling montage in which over weight and balding lower-middle class men are the majority of the clientele of the bowling alley. The Dude's lower class status can also be seen by the clothes he wears in the movie which all appear to be purchased from thrift stores as at one point in the movie he is wearing a Medina Sod bowling shirt that has the name "Art" stitched into the left breast pocket. The upper class characters in the movie are often associated with their enormous dwellings. Mr. Lebowski lives in a mansion that is apparently large enough to warrant "Wings" while Jackie Treehorn lives in a huge house in a "quiet beachside community" and Maude Lebowski has enough room in her house/apartment to have a harness system installed for her abstract paintings. The rug, which is not only what starts all of the Dude's problems, acts as a unifier of classes as it is something expensive that is normally reserved for the higher class characters and is instead "tying the room together" in a "bums" seedy little apartment. Bunny Lebowski can also be seen as a character who has bridged the gap between classes and has become miserable. Leaving her small town family farm in Minnesota Bunny moves out to the West Coast with great ambitions but instead ends up in the not-so blockbuster film "Logjammin'" and having to marry an old disabled wealthy guy just to survive. In the end Bunny is miserable after becoming part of the upper class and her family wants her back. The Coen brothers seem to indicate that the upper and lower classes should not mingle, and that being in the upper class does not neccesarily entail happiness, as the Dude is happiest when he has a White Russian in one hand and a bowling ball in the other.

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