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"Do The Right Thing"

Film Review from the Vaults of Time. I wrote this in 1997, and although my opinions of the film are pretty much the same, I also think that Spike Lee does have a gist for filmmaking, as was seen in "X" and "Summer of Sam."

While the film may be completely pointless, Do the Right Thing, directed by Spike Lee, is full of several racial concepts.  These are portrayed through a hypothetical depiction of inner-city life that makes almost no sense.


Three older men sit on a corner all day talking about what they are going to do with their lives (despite the fact that they are probably already receiving senior citizens' discounts at McDonald’s).  The reasoning they have for not achieving their goals as of yet is that The Man is holding them back.  This is an example of the underclass idea which says that the absence of job opportunities causes those in poverty to be continuously unemployed.  In my opinion, there are plenty of bullshit jobs out there to be had (dishwasher, gas stations, fast food, etc. I've done them all), but people seem to be too proud to take them.  On the other hand, they have no problem begging others for money.  Where's the pride in that?  Of course, Lee doesn't elaborate this far, and just sticks to trying to show how unfair the Bruthas are treated in our society.


Another ideal shown in Do the Right Thing is authoritarian personality.  This is the type of personality that is characterized by arrogance toward persons or groups thought to be inferior.  An example of this is given as a non-African American man drives through the streets on a hot muggy day.  A fire hydrant has been opened and children are playing in the water, seeking relief from the smoldering heat.  The man is driving a convertible Caddilac, and when he sees what is going on, he goes out of his way to threaten the people not to get his car wet.  He feels he's better than these people, but that's common with people with fair skin, right?


Discrimination is the unequal treatment of individuals based on their minority membership.  Lee reverses these roles by portraying whites as minorities.  A white man riding his bike through town almost gets jumped as a result of the color of his skin.  A pizza shop gets destroyed because the owner honored Italians on the walls inside his restaurant.  In the end, though, all this angst is a result of the discrimination which has smothered African Americans.


Lee seems to be complaining the black folk have been, and are still being, negatively stereotyped, yet he stereotypes everyone in this, including blacks.  "Radio" Raheem- stereotypical "ghetto boy" with the enormous boom-box.  Orientals who can't understand the English language run the local convenient store.  Italians either have loads of money or they have restaurants.  True, African Americans have had a rough time in the past, but who hasn't?  At one time or another, everyone undergoes discriminative persecution that is absolutely unfair.  Sure, people have different tastes, ideas, and cultures.  But when it comes down to it, we as humans are all the same.  We all have the same basic needs, we just go about things differently.


People like Spike Lee who make statements like Do the Right Thing are actually a major factor in today's ridiculous problem of racism.  If everyone would just chill out for a while and try to focus on getting along with one another, discrimination of all kinds would die down significantly.  As for this motion picture, Ed Wood has made better.


©Jake McGee - Get Underground

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