The Dude abides. And so do his many fans who seem to revere him for his striking ability to walk around town in little more than a bathrobe and slippers--we never get to see exactly what’s under his bathrobe--and drink White Russians.
There are countless fan sites devoted to Lebowski, a new religion, and just recently The Big Lebowski earned its place as the most popular Coen brothers film in a highly unscientific poll on Slate. The Dude pretty much has a tribute festival in his honor. The Lebowski Fest features a reunion of cast members, unlimited bowling, and White Russians.
All of this puts The Big Lebowski and The Dude somewhere in the range of Elvis stardom--I have seen more than a few Dude impersonations in my day--and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who also gets more than her fair share of impersonators, fan sites, and academic papers written about the deep underlying themes of good, evil, and cheerleaders who also have smart friends.
The Dude, Walter, and Danny have books dedicated to them including one book entitled: The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies which was published in 2009. Of course, as the New York Times observes in this article detailing different pieces of Lebowski literature and academia, not all Lebowski literature is created alike. The editors of the collection intentionally left out any essays referring to Lebowski and the Dude as a post-modern hippie--a choice which is mysteriously lauded by the New York Times.
One of the more intriguing essays in The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies focuses on the broader implications of Lebowski’s drink of choice: the White Russian. New York Times critic Dwight Garner seems less than impressed with this particular essay or Craig Owen, the author of the essay.
Of the essay, Dwight Garner writes:
At times Mr. Owens sounds as if he’s been hitting the minibar himself. He writes about how Leon Trotsky is “doubly implicated” in the White Russian, first because he helped defeat the anti-Communist White Russian army during the Russian civil war, and second because he later fled to Mexico, “Kahlúa’s country of origin.” Mr. Owens suggests that the Dude has a kind of “Trotskian positionality.”
To me, it sounds as if Craig Owens confused The Big Lebowski for Animal Farm and was more probably more influenced by his herb of choice than by anything typically found in a hotel or motel mini bar.
Other essays give Jeff Bridges the credit that he is due for his role in The Big Lebowski. One writer goes so far as to claim that an actor like Tom Hanks could not have pulled off the role quite as well. Given Tom Hanks’ clean cut image, I’d have to say that this is a fairly accurate, but wholly unstartling statement.