Occupy Wall Street: What Would Lebowski Do?

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 24 2011 9:24 AM

The Dude Visits Occupy LA, Abides

dowd2
Jeff Dowd in 2009.

Brian Solis/Wikipedia

As hardcore fans of The Big Lebowski know, the character of the Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, is based on an actual dude, whose name is Jeff Dowd. Joel and Ethan Coen met Dowd while working on their first film, Blood Simple. Dowd and the Dude share a first name, an activist past, and, well, a certain manner.

That manner was very much on display when Dowd visited Occupy LA on October 15:

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While “the Dude rambles on here” (his words), he makes a fairly cogent argument about the shift in the last few decades from a “production-based” economy to a “financially based” one. “What we do want is an economy where it doesn’t pay to be speculative,” he says, ”but it pays to be productive.” He is among those who both support Occupy Wall Street and admire Steve Jobs, whom he praises as someone who stood for “making things.”

Dowd has a professional background in publicity, and what he finds “interesting,” he says, about Occupy Wall Street is the way the movement, thanks to the Internet, has connected with far more people than simply those who attend the rallies. This wasn’t the case back when Dowd was occupying various administration buildings, getting arrested as one of the Seattle Seven, and what have you.

Of course, the Dude did have his own share of run-ins with the 1%.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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