Where Were You When Bobby Kennedy Was Shot?
"The Big Lebowski's" trope-heavy legacy
My first encounter with The Big Lebowski came in college. For most of my schooling, I lived in a co-op where work duties are divvied up as a condition of living there, and dinners are prepared each night for everyone to share. The house was vegetarian (no meat allowed inside!); there were 15 students and another co-op down the street shared our kitchen for the nightly meal, so my years there were populated by hippies and random friends-of-friends coming in and out all the time.
One night I walked into the living room and plopped down on the waterbed where some of my housemates were watching a movie. They were halfway through The Big Lebowski and I had absolutely no idea what I was watching. The movie’s plot is already convoluted and mercurial, but starting halfway is completely disorienting—and doubly hysterical. When watching later, the plot jibed a little more, but the film’s qualities, its vivid characters, its set pieces, its sense of irony, its quotability, have all remained resonant in a way that warrants reflection. Though often labeled a “cult film” because of its weak box office performance, its enduring popularity is a testament to its importance as a piece of art, not just a piece of entertainment. I imagine one could ask many millennials where they were when they first watched The Big Lebowski and each would have his or her own vivid story. If remembering where you were when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center was, for American millennials, what the John F. Kennedy assassination was for baby boomers, then millennials’ first experience with The Big Lebowski might be something like where you were when Bobby Kennedy was shot.