Who really is Doing the Right Thing; a critical analysis of Do the Right Thing, and how it pertains to our society.

As I sat in class to watch Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”, I couldn’t help but notice that a 20 year old movie could carry such overwhelmingly true, contemporary social aspects. Many of the themes in the movie which lead up to the inevitable chaos of the movie are problems which we face today.

The first example I would like to give is the first scene of the actual movie, Mookie(Spike Lee) counting his money. Bearing in mind, this is one of the happiest time’s where we see Mookie, when he is counting his money. This comes up time and time again, when he is working, he insists that Sal pays him his money early, because he “Gots ta get paid”, he also uses it as an excuse to neglect his responsibilities (i.e. his girlfriend, and his son), and justifies this negligence because he is making money. Sal, on the other hand, believe he can make all of his problems disappear by throwing money at them, like what he does with Da Mayor, and Smiley, he hands them a couple of bucks to make them go away. Many people today are driven by the almighty dollar, it drives people to commit crime, and ultimately destroy themselves. Sal’s character represents to me the notion that simply throwing money at a problem will make it go away; a modern day example of this can be seen with the public school system and things like the No Child Left Behind act.

Another interesting point which I noted was the incessant batte between Love and Hate. Radio Raheem narrates this when he explains his knuckle “love and hate” rings. We see a squabble between the two brothers of Sal’s pizza (one wearing black and one wearing white, fitting) about trusting black people. Pino, the biggot wearing white, tells his brother Vito that they aren’t to be trusted, and attempts to make his brother, who is wearing black, to submit to his beliefs, but the battle continues. During the riot sequence of the movie, when Mookie tosses a trash can through Sal’s window, he yells “hate”, and at that point, hatred has ultimately won. At this point the title of the movie comes to mind, and I ask myself, in the movie, is anyone really doing the right thing?

There are many injustices in our society that outrage, and could even justify violence, but is it really the right thing to do? The beginning credits start with a song by Public Enemy “Fight the Power”, with people dancing and mimicing a fight sequence, this shows the rage that many people have, but the closing sequence, the quotes from Malcom X and MLK Jr. lead one to ask themselves is rage really the right path, and will it help solve the problem at all. This is the question that I asked myself, and I believe that Spike Lee’s movie did achieved this wonderfully.

One last bit of irony that I noticed, is that when I was researching the movie, I learned that the characer that played Buggin’ Out, that person that led the campaign to get Sal to put black people on his Wall of Fame, is himself part black, part Italian. Just something to think about.

–Justin Zajdel


~ by english131blog on November 15, 2007.

7 Responses to “Who really is Doing the Right Thing; a critical analysis of Do the Right Thing, and how it pertains to our society.”

  1. I think that that’s really cool that you researched the movie and found such an interesting fact like that. Did Spike Lee do this on purpose? I wonder how many people realize this fact because it is like all African Americans just claim that heratige, even though there are actually African Americans that are pure. Is anyone pure these days? And if not, then why so much hatred towards others? It reminds me of Hitler and how he was against the Jews, but nobody had the guts to say “hey a-hole your half Jew too!” Interesting fact that you brought up….

  2. by A. Aungst

  3. I think that you are totally correct with the 2 brothers nad the different colors they are wearing. I understand now more about how they relate to the movie in a whole. Good Job

    Kristin Sclater

  4. I must say that I found your post extremely articulate and to the point. I also agree that sometimes violence seems like a solution and I too question how “right” it is. I also agree that as Mookie threw the garbage can into the window, hate did win. But, I ask myself what it’s prize was, and what was the price of winning? Radio Raheem was already dead, and Mookie turned on the man who had shown him loyalty and trust throughout the whole film. I think the message is to look past skin color and see who people are on the inside.

    A. Di Iorio

  5. Nice Job. I definately agree that money is used in a lot of ways as a “problem solver” but what people don’t see is that it usually doesn’t help.

    _ Tiffany

  6. Nicew job, Justin. I wonder how the ending plays into your economy of the film? For instance, Sal will get the money to move if he wants to from the insurance company or rebuild bigger and better in the same location. Also, just before the fight Jade tells Mookie that he’s “making peanuts” at the pizzeria and that he needs to move on and take care of his “responsibilities.” Could this ending, with bridges burned between him and Sal, give him the opportunity to find a higher paying job?

  7. Oh…and I would bet that casting Giancarlo Esposito as Buggin’ Out was certainly intentional. Lee did other casting moves like that…Ossie Davis played Da Mayor and he gave the eulogy at both Malcolm X’s and MLK’s funeral. Mother Sister, played by Ruby Dee, was his wife in real life. And of course Jade is Lee’s sister in real life. Not accidents.

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