Do the Right Thing Response

Harrison Simms
Do The Right Thing Journal
Music In Film
Larry Burke, Larry Wallach

Do The Right Thing is a film that can only be understood if we understand the dramatic social context it is surrounded by and makes a commentary upon. Director Spike Lee attacks the lingering question of racial inequality head on: he assembles a collection of colorful distinct characters whose thoughts and feelings represent those of the leaders of the Black civil rights movement, as well as those of the ‘little people‘. Its cultural significance (Fun Fact! Barack Obama took Michelle to see the movie on their first date) derives from the sense of immediacy that Lee is able to interpellate upon the viewer, despite the objective ‘smallness‘ of the movie. The interpellation of the emotions/messages onscreen is masterfully done: the camera techniques harken to Hitchcock (manipulation of perspective to control the response of the viewer) the intense soundtrack of the film acts as the powerful motor that energizes the message of the movie, we feel the importance of equal rights resonate within us just as the pounding bass resonates from the boombox.   Through the events that unfold on just one block over the course of just one day,   Lee shows us that the civil rights crisis remains tragically unresolved, and (sometimes literally) demands us to ’wake up’ and do something about it. Not just to do anything about it, of course - but do the right thing.
Set on one block in the sweltering Bedford-Stuyvesant section of 1989 Brooklyn, Lee also plays the protagonist Mookie, who works as a pizza delivery boy for the family-owned, family-operated, family-dominated Sal’s Pizzeria, that appears to be the most popular eatery in the little community. The little community itself is comprised almost entirely of African Americans, with the minority being a small mash-up contingent of Asians, Hispanics, and even a few white people. The cultural heritage/stereotypical eccentricities of the community...