Review of Spike Lee's ‘Do the Right Thing’

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The movie ‘Do the Right Thing’, directed by the genius Spike Lee, centers on a day of the lives of a group of racially diverse people who live and work in a lower-class neighborhood, of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn New York. The film shows how different social classes, races and the moral decisions that the characters make have a direct effect on the way people interact on a daily basis with each other. The film opens with the characters waking up to start their day, on one of the hottest days of the summer, and climaxes when a neighborhood riot takes place after police officers excessively restrained and killed a young black man named Radio Raheem for brawling an older Italian American business named Sal in his pizzeria, and then outside on the street. The film, which was released in 1989, with its message on the effect that race has on police brutality is just as important today as when it was released 30 years ago. The director aligns himself with both Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr, which are historically very important African-American civil rights movement leaders.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were both civil rights leaders during the 1960s. Both leaders, were religious but had different ideologies about how equal rights should be attained. MLK focused on nonviolent protest (such as bus boycotts, sit-ins, and marches), while Malcolm X believed in attaining equal rights by any means necessary. Before the riot scene, there was a ‘moment of silence’ where the crowd, was deliberating what to do after the man-slaughter of Radio Raheem. Which shows MLK’s ideology, peaceful and resourceful. But this quickly takes a turn and Malcolm X’s ideology resurfaces. The lesser, social class, decides to destroy the pizzeria where it all started. As the neighborhood residents, loot the pizzeria, it clearly shows that they are tired of being made to feel powerless by the police and by all those who are economically better off, then them. While some wreck the store, others go for the money and banknotes, showing that they are determined to repossess the power that they felt that they never even had. While the neighborhood residents destroy the establishment, the owner Sal is taken to the other side of the street where he is forced to watch in disbelief as not only his store is being destroyed, but also his economic superiority over them becomes destroyed as well.

Director Spike Lee chose to create a film that was able to both entertain and emotionally resonate with an audience by pointing out that when racial and social disparities are not properly dealt with those in power, they can sooner or later lead to acts of violence by those who feel helpless. The film is realistic show casing, a melting pot of different cultures and races, and the real struggles of the real world.

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Review of Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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