Recently, I watched The Big Lebowski, after three years or so. I was hit with the realization of how much time had passed, and what I had become. Back then, I was in college, marveling at how righteous the Dude is, and how I secretly wanted to be like him. Now, after a brush with my own slacker stint, I realized, I can never be a slacker the way the Dude was; and that’s the only way to be a slacker. The amount of dedication required to do absolutely nothing, care about no one’s opinions, be extremely naive and make all of it look effortless, was a task I could not execute with style.
The Dude – The Big Lebowski
First up, the main inspiration behind this post (and also a nifty hairstyle I’ve been trying out recently) – the iconic the Dude (Jeff Bridges) from the epic cult film, The Big Lebowski. A simple man, with a simple life complicated by a not so simple name, the Dude is unwillingly thrown into a comedy of errors. The hilarity ensues when the easy going laid back dude deals with paraplegic millionaires, German nihilists and arty farty ladies and pornographic kings – all because he wanted compensation for his soiled rug. Everything that happens to him is complete random happenstance. If he had his way, he would do nothing but bowl a perfect game with his friends and smoke a doobie. He is the ultimate slacker with his lazy drawl, his curly mop of hair, his hapless pajamas and his will to have an uncomplicated life.
Slacker Saying: “Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not “Mr. Lebowski”. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”
- Mark Renton – Trainspotting
Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) inhabits the darker side of the spectrum of slackers. Some might argue that severe drug addiction is not the same as being a slacker. Look at Begbie and Tommy; the non-drug users, they all had distinct slacker qualities. Renton would have been in the same place even if he wasn’t getting high on heroin. Though he does get a chance at his redemption in the end, his soliloquy at the beginning of the movie is the ultimate slacker speech – why do anything when one can get high and not care about the world?
Slacker Saying: “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance . . . Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”
- Troy Dyer– Reality Bites
Coming back to something closer to home, is Troy Dyer (Ethan Hawke). We all know this person. The scruffy, grungy (hey it was the 90s) and philosophical guy was charming, as well as condescending to boot. The “aspiring” artist was perfectly happy to not do anything, except crash at other people’s house and drink all their beer, while posing metaphysical questions to bewildered bystanders. If Ethan Hawke weren’t cute, this guy would have been a big unsympathetic douche. Nobody likes a slacker to be so snide.
Slacker Saying: “There’s no secret handshake. There’s an IQ prerequisite, but there’s no secret handshake.”
- Randall Graves – The Clerks
Kevin Smith is the king of all things slacker, with all his movies prominently featuring a crazy bunch of good for nothing psychos. Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson) from the quirky indie movie Clerks is one of them. He is the epitome of the suburban slacker – a video store clerk caught in a dead end job. He is a careless loudmouth with not even an iota of ethics or respect for anyone. Ordering pornographic movies in front of children, shutting down the video store to go and chat with his friends and play hockey, yelling at customers; Mr. Graves has committed a grave offence of being an anti-social slacker worried only about Star Wars, video games and porn.
Slacker Saying: “Duh duh… duh duh… duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh… Salsa shark! We’re gonna need a bigger boat! Man goes into cage, cage goes into salsa. Shark’s in the salsa. Our shark.
- George Costanza – Seinfeld
George Costanza (Jason Alexander), a short average balding man, would undoubtedly be the winner of the Ultimate Petty Championship, if there were any such competition. He would also win championships for Ultimate Laziness, Ultimate Stinginess and Ultimate Insecurity. A character with many shortcomings, George, for the most part on Seinfeld was either unemployed or employed for brief periods of time due to his inability to maintain his jobs. His personal life is equally dysfunctional as his insecurities and self-doubt can never be curbed. He is lazy, neurotic, intelligent, and pessimistic – a slacker who can never be anything but a slacker due to deeply embedded fears. This is why he is my favourite slacker – He is a unique slacker, someone I can’t sympathize with at all but unfortunately, at times, can empathize with. A tiny bit of George Costanza lives in us all.
Slacker Saying: “If you take everything I’ve accomplished in my life and condense it down to one day, it looks decent!”
“I can’t carry a pen, I’m afraid it’ll puncture my scrotum”
“Hi, I’m George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents”