My first viewing of Do the Right Thing left me feeling extremely sad. I grew up with two heroes: Bruce Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result, I’ve always attempted to be aware of racism and inequality and push for human rights for everyone. This film, heavily drenched in 80’s style, says a lot about racism in interesting ways. Do the Right Thing is a Must See film that requires additional study and understanding.
Mookie (Spike Lee) gets up to go to work at Sal’s Pizza (Danny Aiello) on the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn. As the day gets hotter, racial tensions seem to rise until it boils over. Violence spills onto the street and the block will never be the same.
The hardest character to watch is John Turturro’s Pino. Son to Sal, he’s the most vocal about his distaste to the black people that is the pizzerias main clientele. He’s so vocal, in fact, that when Sal shuts him up it actual disguises his own racism. Sal definitely has a lot of racial views that he tries to hide, but come out when he’s frustrated. It’s his true feelings that ultimately results in his unraveling later in the film. He employs Mookie and seems to have a strange affection towards Mookie’s sister. Yet, ultimately he doesn’t think of his customers as equals.
I really found Da Mayor (Ossie Davis) extremely endearing. A homeless man who definitely relies on his beer too much. Yet, he seems to be the biggest voice of reason in the film. He truly wants everyone to be okay and does what he can to better the community. Despite being harassed by many, he keeps his head held high. He interjects whenever he sees someone doing the wrong thing. After all, he does tell Mookie to “Do the right thing.” He is also a character that I would love to learn more about his backstory. Not that it’s needed, but I found him so interesting and slightly tragic that he’s in his current predicament.
The film style is visually erratic at times. Other times, it’s slow moving and lets the moment play out. There is a lot to take in from this film and it’s one that I plan to further analyze. It’s sad that a film that is almost thirty years old still is relevant to the current cultural climate. Do the Right Thing and Spike Lee allows some insight into racism from a perspective not everyone will know. Yet, it’s a great way to see how far we, as a country, need to go to have equality.