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Cinema of the absurd: The baby boom generation in The Big Lebowski

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  1. Introduction.
    1. 75 million births.
    2. The rock and roll explosion.
  2. Attempts to create a portrait of baby boomer life.
  3. The central characters in The Big Lebowski.
    1. The absurdity of an entire generation ruling mainstream politics and culture.
    2. Esslin's 'clowning, fooling, and mad-scenes'.
    3. The Dude's lack of control.
  4. Another aspect of absurdist theatre.
  5. Absurdist technique employed in order to downplay the significance of the baby boom.
  6. Conclusion.

After World War II, America experienced what would eventually be termed the ?baby boom,? in which about 75 million births occurred between the years of 1946 and 1964. The ?baby boomer? generation has been constantly examined since its inception, and the world during its time has seen tremendous changes, often playing right into the hands of the boomers. The rock and roll explosion appeared just as the oldest boomers were coming of age, and the hippie movement and Vietnam War were available for the rest to claim as their historical times. Due to their tremendous size as a population, the baby boom generation has had incredible impact on politics and the economy as they aged, but for their entire lives they have dominated popular culture. Often, the entire generations of people born during this time are lumped together, as if being of a collective mind. According to Paul C. Light, author of Baby Boomers, ?[the baby boom generation] grew up as the first standardized generation, drawn together by the history around them, the intimacy of television, and the crowding that came from the sheer onslaught of other baby boomers?.

[...] In one scene, when the Big Lebowski and Brandt confront The Dude about a failed ransom mission, The Dude attempts to defend himself but instead pours out nonsensical sentence fragments: ?Y'know, has it ever occurred to you that instead of running around blaming me, given the nature of all this new shit y'know, this could be a lot more uh, uh, uh, complex I mean it's not just, it might not be just such a simple, uh, y'know?? This scene not only highlights that the older generation has a more powerful position than the baby boomer, but with Brandt's presence on the Big Lebowski's side of the limo, it also provides a contrast between The Dude and Brandt, who represent different sections of the baby boomer spectrum. [...]


[...] Enoch Brater and Ruby Cohn. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Artaud, Antonin. ?'Mise en Scene' and Metaphysics.? The Routledge Reader in Performance and Politics. Ed. Lizbeth Goodman. New York: Routledge The Big Lebowski. Dir. Joel Coen. Perf. Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne [...]

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