“Do The Right Thing” was released in theaters on July 21, 1989. The movie was written, produced and directed by Spike Lee and stars Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and others.
The movie revolves around Mookie (Spike Lee) and his day to day agenda living in Bedford-Stuyvestant, Brooklyn. He works delivering pizzas for Sal (Danny Aiello) and as he walks to and from work, he encounters all the different personalities of his neiborhood. The one person he bumps into is Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) and that’s where we get the Hip Hop aspect in the movie. Radio Raheem has a mega giant ghetto blaster and plays nothing but Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power“. On one occasion, Mookie runs into Radio and notices he has a “Love and Hate” four-finger-ring combination, and Radio breaks it down for us.
Another character that lives in the neighborhood is Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito). He plays a trouble making young man that loves controversy. He gets into it with Sal on one ocassion because there are no black people on the wall at the pizzeria!
The combination of both Radio Raheem and Buggin Out, make for a climatic ending where both of them go to the restaurant one night to protest and decide that by being loud and angry they can make changes. When Sal get’s irritated, he picks up a bat and destroys Raheem’s radio into pieces! This then leads to an all out riot and Sal’s pizzeria is burned down to a crisp while Radio Raheem lays in the morgue due to an aggressive choke hold by the NYPD.
Three years later in Los Angeles on April 29th 1992, Los Angeles went up in flames and looting was ramped-up due to the Rodney King verdict. But instead of Public Enemy, we had N.W.A’s “Fuck The Police” as our anthem. Once we get pushed to the edge, the inevitable will happen. By the end of the movie we don’t know if Sal rebuilt the pizzeria or if they stayed in the neighborhood. One thing is for sure, the tensions were calmed and one is forced to rebuild.
This movie showed us how a community can be divided because of the different ethnicities in the neighborhood. We should learn from each other instead of closing ourselves to only the people and customs we know. Stereotyping only divides us more,
This movie is as Hip Hop as “Boyz N The Hood” and “Menace II Society“. It just doesn’t have a Hip Hop soundtrack to go with it. We did get a roll call from Mister Señor Love Daddy (Samuel Jackson), and what is more Hip Hop than that?
The movie was thought provoking and made us look deep into our own prejudices. It’s one of those movies you pop in and you don’t leave your seat until the final credits roll. The movie is a classic and for that we salute you Spike Lee!