There are thousands, if not millions, of fans who have taken to the dude and found his unkempt, unusual style and take on life a true source of inspiration in some form or another. His influence was evident even in big blockbusters like “Avengers: Endgame” this year. People who love “The Big Lebowski” don’t particularly use the Coen brothers film as a guide for life, but every single person that’s ever decided to let it in has at one time channeled the dude, every fan at one time has thought “What would the Dude do?”
The dude is not too complicated. He likes his Caucasians well done, he loves his bowling on demand and all he asks is to be left alone, but that’s not what happens one night after going out to Ralph’s for a carton of milk, is it? No. What happens to the Dude begins the story of a man who just wanted a piece of the pie for once and really met no end of trouble. It’s complicated, a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what have you’s, but at the end when The Dude is talking to The Stranger and mutters “Yeah well… the dude abides,” I know the people who wanted him to, allowed the dude to catch hold of something griping them and just say, “Fuck it, man. Just go with the flow.”
It’s not hard to believe that The Stranger (god? his guardian angel? Just a simple observer, perhaps?) would be so utterly fascinated with The Dude, because everyone he meets loves the man, and he meets every challenge with a slick remark. He doesn’t get horrified when two men beat the crap out of him and try to drown him in his toilet, he just bounces back with a one-liner. But he does get pissed when they pee on his fucking rug. Hey it really tied the room together.
With every piece of fiction there’s always a character we love that inspires us in some form or manner, and there are actually two that do it for me. Walter of course is the man who I can’t help but love every time he slips up and makes some psychotic decision lacking logic or common sense. He may be kind of stupid, but there’s a method to it, and he speaks his mind. Though he doesn’t quite subscribe to the Dude’s philosophy as the Dude would like, he is embodying what the Dude stands for: Speaking your mind in the face of morons, fascists, and rich pricks.
When I first saw “The Big Lebowski,” I felt like it was a dynasty that I wanted to get in on and like everyone else, I just didn’t get it too much. I sat with furrowed brows, and tilted my head a few times wondering why I was so compelled with the Coens’ brand of typical dark comedy with surrealist physical gags and then when I’d finished I saw it again a few days later; and then again the day after and soon I was a fan of The Dude. Not a lot of people actually understood what the Coens were going for when the film first premiered in theaters, and that’s okay, because it’s not like “The Big Lebowski” was destined for humongous mainstream success anyway.
Regardless of what you thought of “The Big Lebowski,” its charm and unique humor was impossible to resist. The Dude was a mix of Spicoli and a Buddhist Monk spewing epitaphs and mantras whenever the situation allows it and really applies a simplistic pacifist approach to any and all conflicts avoiding violence at every turn with a look of sheer bewilderment and sharp responses that keep him out of harm’s way whenever he wills it. Will it and it is no dream.
It probably sounds like I’m deifying the Dude, but it’s a tough argument against the man being looked on as some sort of deity because when we first see him he looks like Jesus dropped down in the sixties and suddenly learned to dig the groove of the times. He’s in a robe and sandals, long hair and a goatee, but he has sunglasses and pajamas and is all very blasé about social standards and expectations. When I think about it, maybe he is Jesus or a deity of equal importance. Which would explain the Stranger, and how his life becomes very difficult when he stops to ask, “What about The Dude?”
And there’s the apparent fact that we never see him bowl, not even once. He definitely carries some sort of clout that we may never really understand and he continues to enamor audiences of all kind. Be you man or woman, the Dude is an appealing character in film who will win you over regardless of how hard you try to fight it. Noting the sentence above, I concocted a few reasons why I know the Dude is an amazing bowler.
We never see him bowl once; The League manager always contacts him personally whenever problems arise; He’s not intimidated by the Jesus; Whenever he threatens to leave the team, Walter who is a generally defiant presence, snaps into action and follows his orders; He listens to bowling on tape when relaxing; He doesn’t take Bowling seriously thus he can’t be too tightly wound when playing; and of course, even rival teams consult with him!
So why do I love the Dude and “The Big Lebowski”? I can’t really tell you that. I just know that the man’s wisdom paired with his effective defiance of authority in spite of being fascist with the film presenting a subtle hint of religious undertones keeps me coming back time and time again and the Coens provide a new experience every single time, man.