Lookin' Out My Backdoor
October 2, 2012 7:44 PM   Subscribe

What's the deal with the doctor in The Big Lebowski?

He asks the Dude to drop his trousers, the Dude hesitates, but then it's implied he follows the instructions. Then the film cuts away to the Dude driving with an inscrutable expression on his face, he is sort of pepped up. Just how thorough was this doctor?

Later we learn that Maude was screening the Dude as a viable biodad for her baby.

The last couple times I've screened it, it's seemed painfully obvious to me that there is some sort of sexual encounter in the doctor's office, for the purpose of gathering a sperm sample? The Dude doesn't strike me as being interested in men, but he certainly has that relaxed stoner thing going on, and you know, this is open-minded Los Angeles, and encounters between two consenting men just "happen," ya know? It seems like something that he could just put out of his mind relatively easily.

Couldn't help but notice that the song playing in the car immediately afterward is Creedence singing "Lookin' Out My Backdoor," which I thought might be some sort of quirky audio pun for gay sex?

If the doctor wasn't gathering a sperm sample, what else could he have been checking for? Signs of disease? Seems like that would be a blood test.

Anyhow I've seen that other people have mused about this odd moment elsewhere, but I haven't seen anyone explain it with any particular clarity. Thought I'd see what you all think.
posted by hermitosis to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Prostate exam
posted by asockpuppet at 7:48 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Then again he is smoking a spliff listening to Creedence, which Larry Sellers didn't take.
posted by asockpuppet at 7:50 PM on October 2, 2012

So he was checking for an enlarged prostate, which might hinder fertility?

I guess I see that as viable. I guess I've just seen enough cheesy porn scenarios that follow that exact sort of script, it seems perfectly logical to me that more might have happened. Also it wouldn't be surprising that Maude's doctor would be some sort of weird sex-type person.
posted by hermitosis at 7:57 PM on October 2, 2012

Did you see one of the American Pie movies? There is a more graphic scene in that movie where a prostate exam progresses to the guy having a very pleasurable but sort of ... unexpected ... ejaculation as a result of the nurse's attentions. So it may have been that sort of a sperm sample/exam situation? That's what I've always thought.
posted by jessamyn at 7:58 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I thought this juxtaposition was weird too, but I also wouldn't put it pass the Coen Bros to make it into a joke without any obvious meaning behind it. They're sort of notorious for red herrings.
posted by Brittanie at 8:04 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you see one of the American Pie movies? There is a more graphic scene in that movie where a prostate exam progresses to the guy having a very pleasurable but sort of ... unexpected ... ejaculation as a result of the nurse's attentions. So it may have been that sort of a sperm sample/exam situation? That's what I've always thought.

I am pretty sure this was actually in Road Trip, which might as well have been an American Pie movie.

posted by brennen at 8:20 PM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

A deadbeat just got a thorough (though-row) medical examination for free, a pinkie up his asshole for free, and was very likely encouraged to donate a sperm sample at some point. I like the Creedence Lookin' Out My 'Backdoor' joke, but I think the Dude is just riding his high after a likely long-needed medical check-up. I can tell you from experience that it's exhilarating.
posted by carsonb at 8:29 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

As a doctor, and as a MeFite with a Lebowski-inspired screen name, I feel uniquely qualified to answer your question.

My professional opinion: I think the sexual encounter part is the invention of your imagination (and a vivid imagination it is! Back door, indeed). My interpretation was that he just had a regular old physical exam to see if he seemed to be a healthy average human male. A thorough physical exam for a male could include examination of the external genitalia and a hernia check/prostate check. No blood tests necessary, really, although if the doctor really is as thorough as they imply, he probably would have checked basic labs and cholesterol panel at least.

It could be argued that a semen analysis would be a useful test if a person is looking for a sperm donor, but it is not part of a standard medical exam, and most people are presumed to be fertile until they aren't having success at reproducing... I think had the doctor asked for (or still more disturbing, tried to physically elicit) a semen sample, it would have certainly raised the Dude's suspicions regarding Maude's recommendation...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:11 PM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm going with prostate check. The CCR is too much fun to be a coincidence.

While I respect treehorn+bunny's expertise, I'm not sure that the Coen's (or the Dude) necessarily considered what exactly amounts to a "regular old physical exam."
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 9:48 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always interpreted it as the doctor was checking The Dude for STD's, probably visually and with swabs to culture. Maude was, after all, planning on having unprotected sex with him.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:53 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Prostate massage is part of the digital rectal examination (DRE) routinely given to men by urologists in order to look for nodules of prostate cancer and to obtain an expressed prostatic secretion (EPS) specimen for microscopy and microbiological culture to screen for prostatitis."

While the doctors in the house might tell us that an "expressed prostatic secretion" obtained in this manner may not be enough to establish fertility, I think there is little doubt that since...

1) Maude tells us this doctor is thorough, with a repeated, exaggerated emphasis that leads one to believe the doctor is invasive...
2) The doctor asks The Dude to drop his pants...
3) When Maude informs The Dude that she is trying to conceive after they had a sexual encounter, The Dude says "Oh, so that doctor..." and Maude says "Exactly"...
4) The DRE is a common enough procedure that there is a generalized awareness by men of all ages, to the point where it becomes a joke in various comedies, that it is possible a doctor might manipulate their prostate and obtain a sample of what appears to be semen...
5) The dude has such a peaceful expression combined with the Creedence "backdoor" lyrics playing in the background...

...we can be reasonably certain the doctor performed a prostate massage on The Dude as part of a larger physical examination, obtained sample of prostatic secretion which for the sake of the movie we should assume was a semen sample, tested it to establish an acceptable level of fertility, and then reported back to Maude, who initiated sex with The Dude as a planned way of conceiving independently of a husband.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:04 PM on October 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

Thank you, TAPAS. That is the most thorough answer that sort of addresses everything I observe in the scene. While I get that it's fanciful to imagine there was some sort of illicit encounter, the film certainly seemed to hint at something more going on than the typical prostate check.

I will still hold close to my heart the version of the movie in which the Dude is sort of occasionally down for random beejays from men his own age, because really who isn't?
posted by hermitosis at 11:29 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Obtaining expressed prostatic secretions is absolutely not done in routine medical practice, and would not tell you anything about a person's fertility. The secretions they're talking about are obtained by a urologic specialist to establish the diagnosis of a bacterial infection in a person with symptoms of chronic prostatitis. Prostatic secretions are part of a man's ejaculate, but there is no sperm in prostatic secretions.

I suppose the doctor could have done a prostate massage for fun while doing a routine prostate exam and things could have gotten hot from there, if that's what you'd like to believe.... but that sounds more like the plot of the medical equivalent of "Logjammin'" than what I think actually happened in the Big Lebowski...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:55 PM on October 8, 2012

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