In Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year hate and bigotry hits breaking point when after building up for a long time it explodes into violence.
Do the Right Thing was released 31 years ago, given the current events that have occurred with George Floyd it appears as though things haven’t really changed all that much in the past 31 years something that is quite frankly terrifying to realise. So maybe watching this film for the first time now it felt even more powerful in highlighting the issues people from different background still have with each other.
The story follows Mookie who is a pizza delivery man living on the street working at the local pizzeria, he lacks any ambition and does his job. Working for Sal the Italian-American owner who has been in this neighbourhood for 25 years and refuses to leave despite the increase of African-American population. His oldest son Pino has an intense dislike for black people and does not want to work for his father anymore, although his younger brother Vito does not share these views and gets on well with Mookie.
We are introduced to many different residents on the street who all seem quite content with life. Although Buggin’ Out is about to cause chaos when he points out that within the pizzeria only famous Italian-Americans photos are on the wall and no famous black celebrities. This is something Sal claims to be only his business and Buggin’ Out decides to start a protest against buying pizza from Sal.
We are given so many interesting scenes and one of the highlights to raise doubts about views is between Mookie and Pino. When Mookie challenges him about his negative views towards black people even though the majority of his famous celebrities are black, I felt this highlighted that Pino just didn’t really understand some of his comments. This then leads to showing how the racial tensions in the neighbourhood were strained with Mookie being against Italians, Pino against African Americans, Latino Steve against the Koreans, White police officer Gary Long against Puerto Rican’s and Korean store owner Sonny against Jews.
That all really highlights the diverse neighbours that were starting to shape in New York and something that the different races were never really happy about. Each feeling they are better and more entitled than the next to arrive, Sal highlighting that the Italian-Americans were in this place first. Then the African-Americans before the newly arrived Koreans, who had just opened a shop.
As I mentioned earlier the 31 years since its release is eye opening to see what still occurs to this day. Especially getting to the heartbreaking murder of Radio Raheem by a cop. That really was brutal and showcased the police brutality that we have seen highlighted so much in recent weeks.
Something I did find amusing though and had actually seen the clip while watching The Last Dance was the Air Jordan scene and the lovely brand new white trainers getting a mark on them. We’ve all felt that with some lovely new trainers, that scene was used in the documentary to show how far Michael Jordan’s image was going in terms of popular culture.
Spike Lee directed, wrote and starred in the film and if that is not showing his passion for the project I don’t know what else is. His performance is very good as well. Danny Aiello was also a standout in terms of performances as well, with John Turturro doing very well to ensure that you have nothing but hate towards his character. Samuel L. Jackson offered some fantastic support as Mister Senor Love Daddy, giving him the chance to lighten the mood and have some comedic moments.
A very powerful, hard hitting yet enjoyable film which I really did find myself engrossed in, I really do need to watch more of Spike Lee’s films!