The Big Lebowski: Analysis of the Linguistic Systems

Topics: The Big Lebowski, Ferdinand de Saussure, Linguistics Pages: 4 (1278 words) Published: November 25, 2013
For the purpose of my answer I've chosen to offer a structuralist reading on the Cohen brothers famous cult-classic The Big Lebowski. When it was released at the end of the 20th century it was considered as being a highly unconventional film, defying most of the established western storytelling narratives of the time. While it may be a highly subversive in its creation in comparison to other such storytelling paradigms, it is essentially impossible to withdraw itself from the gaze of Ferdinand de Saussure discourse on Structural Linguistics. Over the course of this essay I intend on deconstructing The Big Lebowski by paying particular attention to the linguistic systems utilized throughout the movie. Such systems include the texts binary oppositions, the interactions of langue and parole and the cultural and generic codes set out within the text. With these I will scrutinize how they oppose one another to deconstruct themselves and the generic conventions of the text itself.

The main binary opposition of the movie are the terms "hero" and villain". By having one it is essentially "verifying the other" (O'Brien, LAN, 2013). While there are numerous characters who fall under such terms, "The Dude" is the texts main hero. The Cohen brothers clearly intended on defying this generalization right from the very beginning by defining The Dude in the films opening narration by "The Stranger" rather as being a "the man for his time and place". He also refers to himself in the third person as being "a deadbeat, someone the square community don't have to give a shit about" which adds a certain humbleness to The Dudes character. When the term "Dude" originated in the late 19th century, it was used to denote a man that would have pejorative connotations of effeteness. So for the traditionalist critique, The Dudes lack of interest for power prescribes him as being "half a man" so to speak. On the contrary, Jeffrey Lebowski, a traditionalist and the films villain,...
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