Essay on Do the Right Thing

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“We are home!”
On Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing

With his Do the Right Thing producer, director, and actor Spike Lee has succeeded in creating a truely controversial film that leaves its audience with questions and a source for a lively discussion. And indeed many have taken the opportunity to comment on Lee’s work, mostly ignoring its general aspects and rather focussing on its message or deeper meaning. The film deals with both social and racial relationships and shows a community in which people from all sorts of backgrounds live together in a way which is probably best described with the image of a salad bowl. With all these different cultures living next to eachother yet having problems living with eachother, there is this constant feeling of tension throughout the entire film. Even more so, if one was to describe the film in one word, ‘tense’ would most definitely be an obvious choice. The almost inbareble heat that the inhabitants of Bed-Stuy have to face serves as a perfect metaphor for the rising tension between the different ‘races’. Or as Wehrle puts it: “The sepia tone of the film accurately captures the sweltering heat and humidity of summer as well as the tense racial climate of the community.”

What makes the story utterly compelling is the way in which every character approaches the seemingly impossible task of living together with such a variety of cultures, while in fact the variety of personalities is almost as crucial. But as Do the Right Thing makes clear, the bond created by colour is far stronger than that created by personality. This even goes as far as seeing segregation as the ultimate solution for racial differences:

Pino: Dad, I don’t wanna be here. They don’t want us here. We should stay in our own neighbourhood, stay in Bensonhurst, and the niggers should stay in theirs.

Besides Pino’s approach towards the issue, there is also Buggin’ Out’s in the form of a Malcolm X-like approach of boycotting and ‘taking up the weapon...
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