Do the Right Thing
The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Do the Right Thing is HOT. Everything about this movie was hot, from the weather down to the themes and issues it brought up. It’s interesting too watch this movie while living with a heat wave in NYC. There’s plenty of room for debate as to whether or not anyone did the right thing in this script, in my opinion most of the characters did the wrong thing. What’s interesting to me is to think about what Spike Lee considered the right and wrong thing to do in this screenplay. It’s not just his words as an actor playing a role, he also wrote, directed, and produced the vehicle for those words and actions to come to life. So it’s hard to separate Spike from Mookie, and I don’t think Spike would even want us to. I also wonder about some changes from the screenplay and the film, and the effect the have on the overall message of the film.
The one thing you know for absolute sure about this script, with not much room for interpretation is that it’s hot in Brooklyn when this story takes place. It was clearly a heat wave, and that heat wave spoke volumes as to the current racial climate in the city. A scorching hot city added to the tension the characters were feeling, but Spike did a nice job of letting the tension build throughout this piece. Even at the end of the film when the insanity at Sal’s erupts into a riot scene, you have to be surprised to see it happen. It’s like the characters were living with the oppressive heat of the summer, and you just knew that the heat was a part of life that had to live with. For most of the film, none of the characters shied at all around the subject of race either. It almost made the audience just accept that these characters lived in a reality where race was a hot button issue and they lived with it everyday. Blacks would make open racial slurs to the Koreans in the deli, Italians would openly call blacks niggers, and noone was doing anything about it, they were just living with it. Then in the climax as if the city were a pot of water on a stove, the water boiled over and the climactic events at Sal’s lead to the cops killing Radio Raheem. It was as if to say tensions were so high that something as trivial as the volume of music being played on a stereo could lead to a race riot and death in mere minutes.
Mookie hear’s from Da Mayor and in the end from Sal, to make sure he does the right thing. The way I see this movie is a series of events where no one is doing the right thing most of the time, only some of the time at best. I thought Mookie was a great peacekeeping character throughout most of this film, and that’s why it was interesting to see him throw the trashcan through Sal’s window and unleash the riot that lead to burning down Sal’s Famous. Since Spike was playing Mookie, it seemed to me like Spike through Mookie’s actions was telling us the audience that the right thing to do here was to burn down Sal’s. It’s easy for a white...