Film: Do the Right Thing (1989)
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Danny Aiello, Spike Lee
2009 has been a year of constant anniversaries and commemorations. However, one anniversary overlooked is the 20th anniversary of the release of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.
Do The Right Thing is Spike Lee’s magnum opus on the topic of futile racism, bigotry and communal discontent which can so easily infest society from the smallest, trivial gnat of a matter, growing into a monster that invariably wrecks people’s lives.
Set on the hottest day of the summer in the melting racial pot of Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, the day starts off pretty ordinarily for the local community centred around the spot of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. However, when a rowdy, pseudo-black power activist starts to organise a ‘boycott’ of the pizzeria over a lack of black faces on the restaurants wall gallery, it sets into motion a string of encounters between the multi-ethnic community that ultimately ends in tragedy.
The film follows a multi-racial community featuring Afro-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Italians, who seem superficially at ease with each other, but with deep underlying tensions simmering under everyone’s skin that come to boiling point over the most ridiculous and unlikely of spats. Here no one is immune from the grasp of bigotry as it spills out left, right and centre, whether it be in protest over pictures on a wall, the hardships of being part of a minority or moaning about immigrants running a local shop.
As one watches the movie from its unassuming beginning right to its explosive ending, it’s sure to leave an alarming yet thoughtful taste in the viewer’s mouth.