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The Right Thing Review

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Spike Lee's 1989 film, "Do The Right Thing" is a powerful, honest demonstration of racial tensions and the dynamics of a tight community. "Do The Right Thing" is a story which portrays discrimination as a general problem amongst all people, not between specific people or specific to one group of people. Set on a hot day in a small neighborhood in Brooklyn, Lee uses several intense scenes and the buildup of small issues and quarrels to show how tension can build up to eventual intense violence.

"Do The Right Thing" begins as we are introduced to the characters. Mookie, played by Spike Lee himself, is a young black man who works delivering pizzas for an Italian American man, Sal's pizzeria. We are introduced to Sal's two sons, Pino and Vito. Pino is very outspoken about his detest of the neighborhood African American population. Vito, the younger son, is good friends with Mookie, which often leads to quarrels between himself and his older brother. Countless people are encountered within the film, but very few have a storyline which goes behind their character. The neighborhood drunk, called Da Mayor is made fun of through the streets of the community, as he wanders around trying to win the heart of an older woman from the area. A man named Radio Raheem walks around the block, carrying his boom box which is always blasting the song "Fight the Power;" he wears rings on his fingers, one which reads love, and another which reads hate, which he explains to the audience as a way to describe the struggle and tension which is arising through the town. A mentally disabled man, who the people of the neighborhood call Smiley, wanders up and down the block showing everyone the pictures he carries of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Lastly, the film is somewhat narrated by the "Love Daddy," the local disc jockey from the radio.

Tensions are seen very early on in the film. A young black man, referred to as "Bugging Out" enters Sal's pizzeria and makes a scene as he is annoyed that their wall of fame has no pictures of African American actors or politicians, only white Italian Americans; the two argue loudly, and violence is threatened, but "Bugging Out" storms out of the store, claiming that he is boycotting the pizzeria, and the quarrel was forgotten about. In a separate scene, a Latino man is driving his car through the town, when young African Americans, playing in the street turn on the fire hydrant, completely soaking the mans car. The man gets out of the car; again there is a warning of violence, but two white police quickly settle the incident. In one of the final scenes, Radio Raheem, in an attempt to support "Bugging Out's" boycott of the pizzeria, enters the store later at night with his boom box playing loudly, and refuses to turn off his music and leave; the African American men start demanding that the pictures



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