So, that being said, Here is Do The Right Thing:
So my lack of attention to this blog may have been due to my less than enthusiastic response to the last movie ("Blade Runner"...don't bother), and this movie "Do The Right Thing". Now, it wasn't that this movie had a poor story line or horrible acting that made me lose my interest. It was that I had a very hard time relating to this movie on a personal level. I tried to think of every angle I possibly could, but I ended with zip, nada, nothing!
Brooklyn, NY is experiencing a heat wave during the summer of 1989, and people are doing anything they can to keep themselves and tensions cool. Mookie (Spike Lee) is a young man living in a black and Puerto Rican neighborhood with his sister, Jade (Joie Lee, Lee's real life sister), and works as a pizza delivery man for a local pizzeria. Salvatore "Sal" Frangione (Danny Aeillo), the pizzeria’s Italian-American owner, has owned it for twenty-five years. His older son, Giuseppe, better known as Pino (John Turrno), "detests the place like a sickness" and holds racial contempt for the neighborhood blacks. Sal's younger son, Vito (Richard Edson), is friends with Mookie, who is black, which Pino feels undermines their fraternal bond.
Upon entering Sal's shop, a kid named Buggin' Out questions Sal about the "Wall of Fame" in the restaurant displaying famous Italians, and demands he place some pictures of black celebrities on the wall, since, he explains, Sal's pizzeria is situated in a black neighborhood and sells pizza to black people. Buggin' Out attempts to start a protest over the "Wall of Fame", but no one will support his protest except Radio Raheem, who earlier got into an argument with Sal about playing his boombox loudly in the store. Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) lives for nothing else but to blast Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" on his boom box wherever he goes.
That night, as the shop is closing, Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out march into Sal's and demand that Sal change the pictures on the wall. Radio Raheem's boombox is blaring at the highest volume causing Sal to yell and demand that they turn the radio down or leave the shop, but the two men refuse to do. Finally, Sal snaps and destroys Radio Raheem's boombox with a baseball bat. This causes Radio Raheem to become enraged, attacking Sal. A fight ensues along with a crowd of spectators. The policemen arrive at the scene and Buggin' Out is arrested while Radio Raheem is placed in a chokehold by one officer, killing him.
Afterwards, the large crowd of onlookers are enraged about Radio Raheem's death. A tense moment ensues when the crowd contemplates violence against Sal, Vito, and Pino. Deciding that the floodgates are going to burst open eventually, Mookie grabs a trash can and throws it through the window of Sal's restaurant, directing the collective anger towards the property and away from the owners. The angry crowd becomes a riotous mob, rushes into the restaurant, and destroys everything within, eventually setting the place on fire. Firefighters arrive and begin spraying Sal's building as the crowd is held back by riot patrol. The firefighters, after several warnings to the crowd, turn their hoses on the mob, further enraging them. Meanwhile, Smiley wanders back into the smoldering restaurant and hangs a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. on what's left of Sal's "Wall of Fame".
The next day, Mookie returns to Sal and demands his weekly pay he had earlier been demanding to receive early, which he gets and he and Sal cautiously reconcile.
Wow. I hope just from reading that summary you are able to comprehend how powerful of a movie this is. So much tension over race. Now, I hope you can also see why I had a hard time relating to this film. If you haven't checked out my picture on the "Cast" tab, I am a 22 year-old, white, blonde girl who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Now, you might think that, "hey, Washington, DC is such a diverse area, you have to be familiar with racial tension." You would be half correct. Yes, the Washington, DC area is a very diverse area, and for that reason, I never really paid race any mind while I was growing up.
During my childhood, I grew up next door to a family from Pakistan, had a friend down the street who had both white and black parents, and my best friends in elementary school were, Persian, Mexican, and Black. I don't think I even thought about the fact that they looked different from me, because when I looked around, everyone was different from everyone else. This continued to be my way of life all throughout my middle school and high school years. Italian, Filipino, Irish, Jewish (attended soo many Bar and Bat Mitzvas...) African American, African, Australian... name a country and there was somebody in my school from there. We all grew up together like this, and I can't speak for all of those friends I had (would be interesting to hear their take on it), but I never really thought about what another person's race was or paid it much attention. Until I went to Miami University in Ohio.
People talk about a culture shock of going from a small town to a big city, well going from my medium sized town, to middle of no where Ohio with a school that probably ranks as one of the least diverse colleges in the country (# 4 most homogeneous in the country in 2008), was a culture shock. Every one... was... white. Not only white, but looked exactly the same. I could probably have counted on one hand how many people I passed walking to class who were of a different race than me. It was startling. I had never really thought about race when I was applying for schools because I guess I had just naively assumed that all colleges and towns were diverse, just like mine back home. (University of Maryland is a VERY diverse school in a VERY diverse area).
So although I am not some sheltered person living in the middle of no where (like Oxford, Ohio), I have never experienced racial tension first hand. The person closest to me who I think can relate to this story more than me would be my father, who has been a teacher and coach in the county I grew up in for over 30 years. He specifically teaches students who are struggling in mathematics and usually come from low-income families. I can't say off the top of my head any stories he has about racial tension between him and another student or students between themselves, but I do know that it has happened. I know generally that when he benches a kid for poor grades, he is sometimes accused of being racist. The funny thing is, this can sometimes come from white players who think he just wants to play black players!
The film ends with two quotations : The first, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., argues that violence is never justified under any circumstances. The second, from M argues that violence is not violence, but "intelligence" when it is self-defense. These are both good quotes to think about and mull over as you watch "Do The Right Thing". I would recommend watching it, even if you don't think you can relate to it, because it has such a powerful message and maybe it will educate those of us who do not understand.