Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Aggression Cannot Stand, Man

I'm tired of hearing about pigs, lipstick, and unchallenged lies. So instead, how about I share this great reading of The Big Lebowski as a commentary on Neoconservatism?

The police have recovered the car, and the Dude has found, wedged between the seats, a page of homework belonging to one Larry Sellers. Walter figures out Larry's address and arrives at his house, the Dude in tow, the homework in a plastic bag. He then makes a brief presentation...

When Larry says nothing, Walter proceeds to Plan B: destroying the new Corvette parked outside—purchased, he assumes, using the money left in the car—with a crowbar. Actually, though, the Corvette belongs to a neighbor. Neocons everywhere can sympathize.

Is this eerie foreshadowing of the second Iraq war coincidental? Not entirely. The Coen brothers created a character with traits that run deep in American culture: unflinching righteousness and a tendency to violence. (He was largely based on John Milius, who wrote and directed Red Dawn, the Cold War-paranoia film that later gave its name to the military operation that captured Saddam.) This character confronts a situation that combines both injustice and the opportunity for material gain. He responds more or less as one would imagine. The Dude's pacifist leanings are no match for Walter's assertiveness: While the Dude's disposition may be admirable, he has little effect on the tide of world events. (Refugees from the 1960s can also sympathize.)
The author is probably giving the Coen's a bit more credit that they deserve, but basically the comparison works. And it's a lot more fun to watch this fictional debacle than the real life Walters who have been running our country.

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