Monday, February 18, 2008

"The Dude" Is Not a Hero

One of the most interesting/important aspects of Joel and Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski (1998), in my opinion, is the portrayal of diversity/class/genders. We see everything from the poor, lazy oaf (who is not a hero but is still the protagonist of the film) to the rich, apparently thrill-seeking woman. Throughout the movie, the Coens present us with one stereotype after another (e.g., Nothing to worry about; "these men are nihilists"), and "The Dude" does not escape this device. Even in his fantasy with Maude, he is a plumber (or some other job that we often see as lower- or middle-class), while she is a powerful viking (?) woman with a trident; thus, he will never amount to anything, even in the fantasy, and she, being rich in the "real world," gets to wear symbols of power in the fantasy world. Even in the end—although "The Dude" has gone on an adventure, playing private dick—"The Dude" only has his bowling buddies to go home to. There is no lifestyle change for him, even though he underwent a (superficial/fake) transformation of sorts during his adventure (i.e., lost his laziness, to a degree, so he could complete the mission). During the mission, his life had purpose, but now, it's back to basics, or shall we say "bowling?" Thus, "The Dude" is not a hero (for long, at least). He again becomes a stereotypical oaf.

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