Do the Right Thing has caused side discussions in several threads lately. I thought that, given the very differing views of this film, it might be well to have a thread devoted to discussion of this film. I’ll start things off with a few comments on why I consider this a great film and what I think this film is about. To begin, although many (perhaps all) of the characters seem to be stereotypical, they are, in my opinion, meant to be representative and as such are presented as real people, with all of the strengths and weaknesses that real people possess. They are not cardboard characters, some with integrity above reproach and others with no redeeming qualities (perhaps a couple of exceptions to this). It is also useful to note, that many of the situations are deliberately set up to be diametrically opposed just as most of the characters’ personalities have two sides —this of course a literary device that classically allows the tension to be resolved with a sense of oneness, or completeness at the end. For example, Mookie (Spike Lee) is clearly intended to be a likeable character. He is full of personal charm and charisma, and it is clear that he is well liked in the neighborhood. But he is also shown to be lazy, self-indulgent and not much involved with the care and raising of his son. Perhaps Mookie’s sister, Jade (Joie Lee) is presented as a completely ‘good’ character, but even Jade is not above entirely above reproach. Lee early on introduces us to all of the major characters and how they interact with one another. In fact, as the day begins, it is clear that we are seeing a day much like any other day, where the same things are said and responded to by the same people, as they are every day. A day much like any other day—perhaps the first indication that a change is in the air, is the introduction of the yuppie on the bike, who has just moved into the neighborhood and who immediately is involved in a confrotation with ‘Buggin’ Out’ . Lee begins to peel back the personalities, so that we are shown more than their surface persona. We see two sides of Sal’s (Danny Aiello) personality (represented by his two sons, just in case we don’t get it), we are shown that Radio Raheem’s menacing physical appearance (amplified by his oversize boom box, played loudly), is tempered by a gentler disposition, where ‘love’ wins out over ‘hate’. Finally we are shown the overarching duality of the two approaches to race (as seen from the black perspective) in America, personified by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. For me, Lee provides no answers, but rather asks valid, hard questions based on conditions, as they exist. And he notes a potential outcome, as non-political persons (represented by Mookie) become politicized, and act on pent-up anger (represented by ‘Buggin’ Out). None of the characters are without racial prejudice and few are without compassion. We are left with the question posed in the title: ‘did Mookie do the right thing”? Certainly we are supposed to believe that he did (in the context of the film), as he was charged to do so in the opening of the film, by ‘Da’ Mayor’. But also ‘Da’ Mayor’ does the right thing, in helping to prevent the violence from escalating further—no one else is killed or injured and the Korean store is not vandalized. For me at least, Lee leaves hope that racial issues can be resolved—but it is up to us (and necessary for us) to see past our preconceptions so that we can find solutions. What are your views? I’ve just scratched the surface of mine.