Trouble in Paradise: Non-fiction: post 90s groove - Lebowski, Shrink and Lions for lambs

Friday, June 14, 2019

Non-fiction: post 90s groove - Lebowski, Shrink and Lions for lambs

video here
Introduction: Lebowski, Lions for lambs and Shrink…. Stay tuned to find out how these works dug into the post 90s groove….
Hi my name is JdH and this video details much of the vibe of the first decade of 2000 and in my opinion it was captured perfectly in these seminal works. First off, the 2000s were an era in which a lot happened it was the era with the internet-boom taking off, it was the era leading up to Obama as president, but it was also the era in which the economy started to decline and a new normalcy asserted itself. 
Lebowski and Shrink swung to two ends of that new spectrum. The Dude is the ultimate under-achiever who has somehow held on to a life that’s half in and out of the system, because he might resort to some shady business from time to time if needed. On the other end there’s the sometime over-achiever Henry, a successful therapist who has become dispirited in his job and who deals with this fact by smoking a good amount of weed.
Both stories get more meat as they develop. Lebowski introduces a whole range of colorful characters that somehow explain how a man like The Dude lives it’s interesting and very entertaining, because at some level we would all like to live like The Dude and his friends. They are all under-achievers, but they are this in a grand way. It’s at that level that the story works, but that’s also where it stays: it’s all at the surface. 
Shrink is more nuanced, because we soon learn that Henry isn’t just stuck in his job, but that he’s also mourning the death of his wife. This gives the story a layer that’s relatable in a very different way – it gives insight into grieve, that we have all experienced, be it close or far. At the same time it gives urgency to life: to make sure to enjoy all the moments that we have together.
Lions for lambs is more serious and it cruises somewhere in the middle, but it ends up with the same basic premise: what we do may not matter that much in the greater scheme of things. The story at the surface is about The End of history: wars need to be won so that democracies can be instated and this will secure a safer world. It has to do with a very specific definition of history: that of history being World History where all our efforts are focused to secure liberal democracies. 
Lions for lambs has three separate story-lines that take place at the same time. A senator selling strategy, cadets fighting Iraq, and a teacher-student on politics and putting yourself on the line. The punch-line is that it’s futile to go and fight in a warfrom an individual perspective, because most people don’t the reasoning is very simple: we prefer to play things safe. 
On the other hand, that reasoning kind of swings both ways. Go to war, risk death, but come back a hero and go to college for free, versus: no risk of death, no free college and debt until age 40. This mechanism comes back later on as well when the interviewer decides not to expose a bogus theory, to avert loosing her job. Is that lack of integrity? On some level, but I fully understand the reasoning. 
Maybe that’s exactly the existential dread that we try to deal with ourselves and we do this to some extentthrough fiction. The Dude is a caricature, Henry is more real, but still a thick and fictional character. The characters in Lions for lambs are more indistinct and more like us, but at the same time they aren’t, because most of us are not senators, journalists, cadets or studying political science. 
That’s why those stories appeal to us at a more profound level. At heart it’s all about the same thing: feeling stuck and making the most of it. We see how different people with different lives deal with this same problem.
And with this where it links up with all the big themes of our times: the great recession, the idea that we’re all equals, loss of religion, individuality that has gone too far, the idea that everything needs to be fantastic all the time, the idea that all our time needs to be spend being productive, the idea that more and higher education will solve all our problems, and so forth, and so on. 
These are just some of the themes of our times and they can’t be explained and solved in one video. And they can’t be solved in one novel. But a lot of stories combined may help us understand more about ourselves and the world around us. That’s why these movies work and why fiction in general is so important.
Anyway, my name is JdH and these were just some of my ideas. If you want more, watch more of my videos and read my fiction that’s freely available. A new story every week.
Signing off, JdH speaking to your from the Caribbean.

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