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Last Exit to Bronkhorstspruit Vol 2: I’m a Lebowski, Are You a Lebowski?


Written by André Meyer (Culling Song)

Posted in :Original Content, Reader Submissions on 3 May 2013 at 10:36

In the hierarchy of the arts, film is at the bottom of the food chain. If you don’t believe me, consider the muses of Greek mythology. The daughters of the gods, they were the source of inspiration for all arts. Of the nine muses, Calliope and Clio were concerned with the written word, Erato, Euterpe and Polyhymnia with music, Melpomene, Terpsichore and Thalia the performing arts, and Urania with astronomy (which was considered an art at the time; them Greeks sure are crazy!).
Film though, was not considered important enough by Zeus to sire another daughter for. So there you have it straight from the gods’ loins.

But even though I’ve just spent a whole paragraph and several minutes of my time denigrating movies does not mean that film as a medium is entirely without merit. Even a blind chicken finds the occasional pearl before the swine do, as the saying goes, and so there are some offerings from the silver screen that are worth your time and effort. Which brings me to the topic of this week’s column – The Big Lebowski, the greatest movie ever made. Here’s five reasons why you should see it:

It’s all true (almost): An absurdist dark comedy with a plot as convoluted as the paper trails in any government organisation, The Big Lebowski is nonetheless based on facts. The Dude, Walter, Donnie, Maude, Jackie Treehorn, and the rest of the inimitable cast of characters all have equivalents in real life. You’ve heard that life is stranger than fiction, but now you have fiction imitating life imitating fiction, which is stranger still. And very, very entertaining. Cool? Cool!

It’s infinitely quotable: The measure of great art (and entertainment) is how much time you spend thinking and talking about it afterwards. In that respect the Big Lewboski takes a well worn page from the books of Monty Python, Blackadder et. al., being crammed full of dialogue that simply begs to be revisited. Snippets like “Nihilists! F*** me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” or “The Chinaman is not the issue here, Dude. I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line you DO NOT… Also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-America, please.” gain traction as it’s repeated, unfurling in one’s mouth to be savoured like a fine wine. Again and again and again. And again. And… er, lost my train of thoughts there.

It‘s spawned a cult: Despite a poor showing at the box office on initial release, the film has gone on to generate a truly massive cult following. People have been known to land jobs based on the ability to pick up on lines of dialogue slipped into the interview process. Also, there’s an annual Lebowski Fest, where fans dress as the characters and get together to take ‘er easy. It’s almost like the Freemasons, minus the sodomy and Satan-worshipping. And you don’t have to stand blind-folded, with one trouser leg rolled up in a coffin while some Parkinson’s-riddled, geriatric old codger holds a compass against your throat to join.

It has birthed a religion: How many movies can list that as an accomplishment on their cv? Yet it’s true; The Big Lebowski unleashed a wave of enlightenment on an unsuspecting world, resulting in the genesis of Dudeism, the world’s first non-theistic religion (of which yours truly is an ordained minister/priest/cleric/what-have-you). The basic tenets of Dudeism can be summarised as follows:

”While Dudeism in its official form has been organized as a religion only recently, it has existed down through the ages in one form or another. Probably the earliest form of Dudeism was the original form of Chinese Taoism, before it went all weird with magic tricks and body fluids. The originator of Taoism, Lao Tzu, basically said “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” and “mellow out, man” although he said this in ancient Chinese so something may have been lost in the translation.

Down through the ages, this “rebel shrug” has fortified many successful creeds – Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, John Lennonism and Fo’-Shizzle-my-Nizzlism. The idea is this: Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.

Detractors of Dudeism argue that it is merely humanism dressed up in a threadbare bathrobe, and while there are certainly many similarities, humanism does not partake of the same rich and meaningful sacraments as Dudeism. Like bowling. And driving. And the occasional acid flashback. So detractors, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

The fifth (and most compelling) reason: Because I say so.

‘Till next time, from the Bronks, this dude abides.

POST COLUMN NOTE: If, like any rational human being, you feel the urge to watch the Big Lebowski after having read this, and you have not done so before, please take note!!! The F-word (and it’s derivatives) is employed 292 time in the movie. So don’t watch it with your kids. Or your parents (unless of course they are Dudeists, in which case you have cool parents – respect!).



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