Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: “The Lebowski Podcast”

Posted by Maximum Fun on 12th October 2008

Readers often ask your Podthinker if, one day, the podcast well will run dry. It’s a frightening thought, being left with nothing in the barrel except a few learn-French shows and Keith and the Girl, but it’s not a realistic one. Podcasting technology is so accessible, so democratic that anyone can — and does — record and distribute podcasts about anything. No matter what it is, there will be a podcast about it. This week’s recpient of Podthought is a case in point: it’s about The Big Lebowski — and nothing else.

Of course, that’s to be expected from a program entitled The Lebowski Podcast [iTunes link]. Given this Podthinker’s previously noted background in film geekery, he’d presumably hand an automatic A+ to any show dedicated solely to discussion of such a respected “cult classic,” would he not? Alas, the issue is more complicated, as the Lebowski Podcasters’ film geekery is of a different stripe altogether, a stripe whose touchstones include the likes of Clerks, Pulp Fiction and Napoleon Dynamite. (Is there a name for this fandom?) But none of those, naturally, could ever hold a candle to The Big Lebowski, or as they simply call it, “The Movie”.

This podcast seems like the source a casual filmgoer — even one already possessed of much enthusiasm for the Coen brothers’ other works — would check out first for answers about why, exactly, The Big Lebowski is so intensely worshiped. The Movie has inspired a book [MP3], a 10th-anniversary DVD [MP3], annual festivals [MP3] and even a religion [MP3], none of which, as those links indicate, fly under the Lebowski crew’s radar. If it’s Big Lebowski-related, they discuss it; perhaps not in the best audio quality or in the most polished mic manner, but with the kind of zeal you’d expect from a group that got its start as a bunch of college floormates who just really, really liked The Dude and his surrealistic quest to replace a urine-soaked rug.

The crew leaves almost no inquiry unaddressed and no speculation unspeculated: where The Movie fits into the film noir tradition [MP3], how The Movie holds up to a feminist critique [MP3] and what song The Dude would have liked to have been included in The Movie’s soundtrack [MP3]. They even touch on some only-tangentially-related-to-Lebowski filmic matters, such as Jeff Briges’ then-latest film The Amateurs [MP3], or the Coens’ then-latest, No Country for Old Men [MP3].

Alas, they never quite get around to directly answering that burning question: why The Big Lebowski? Why love it to the core of one’s being rather than simply like it a lot? The Movie’s transcendent greatness is axiomatic here, and perhaps that makes sense; it’s clearly for hardcore Lebowski fans, after all, and indeed they’ll love every minute. But one still wonders how they got that way.

Vital stats:
Format: group film discussion
Running since: January 2007
Duration: 10m-1h
Frequency: monthly, at least
Archive available on iTunes: all

[The Podthinker Colin Marshall abides. Get him at colinjmarshall at gmail, suggest podcasts for Podthoughts here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]