Do The Right Thing

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rich Romero, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    I just saw this for the first time. I have a few observations. What was Spike Lee's intention with this movie? I know the point would be that violence isn't the answer to racial prejudice. Also, why were blacks portrayed so horrible in this film? Why wouldn't he just turn his radio off? I see the fact that Sal had no hate until it was instilled in him by the behavior of the guy with the radio and the other (sorry I've forgotten the names). Sal's son called them animals. They acted like it when they completely destroyed his pizzeria when he had nothing to do with the murder. I just don't understand why Spike Lee would make his own race look so bad. I'm not a racist by any means but this is just the way I see it. Despite all these concerns, I really enjoyed the movie, especially the look of it. The movie made me almost FEEL the heat.
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    Oh you're gonna feel heat alright![​IMG]
     
  3. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    I sure hope not. [​IMG]
     
  4. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    No offense Rich, but I believe many of the films messages were lost on you. The fact that you think they were acting like "animals" leads me to that conclusion. I don't think Spike made the black people in Do The Right Thing look bad at all. There are many deep issues in DTRT that may not be readily apparent on it's surface. I think its an amazing film.
    Perhaps after the eventual responses that are sure to come, you will revisit this film with a better understanding....and then again, perhaps not.[​IMG]
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Well, to slightly misquote someone, your question is “what is the movie about? ”, and then, “what is the movie really about?”

    While I’m not sure that I know the answer to either question, I’ll make some observations. This is, in my mind, Spike Lee’s masterpiece. His tendency to over sentimentalize (as in Mo’ Better Blues) is not present in this movie. Also Lee does not tell us what to think or how we should view events. He does, in my mind, manipulate our feelings about certain events or people, but does so in a way that challenges our preconceptions and requires us to think about the issues.
     
  6. Eric Franklin

    Eric Franklin Stunt Coordinator

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    IMO everyone (especially the cops and except for The Doctor and Sal's youngest son) acted like animals in this scene. Everyone let their anger and hate get the best of them.
     
  7. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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  8. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    I think he means "Da Mayor". [​IMG]
     
  9. Todd Terwilliger

    Todd Terwilliger Screenwriter

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    I agree with everything said above. This film definitely requires multiple viewings. A few thoughts:

    The heat is both literal and figurative. There is a tension brewing in the neighborhood that boils over with the killing of Radio Raheem and the destruction of Sal's restaurant.

    The fault that runs through most of the characters is the fault of exclusion. The blacks don't want the yuppie in the neighborhood. The Koreans (I think) don't want the blacks in their store. Sal doesn't want the blacks on his wall. The Hispanics don't want to hear Raheem's music, etc. Just as Raheem refuses to turn his radio down so does Sal refuse to give in on his wall.

    Everyone is at fault. Or nobody is. Can we live together peacefully in a neighborhood or can't we? Was it just the heat or was it something else?

    Watch it again.
     
  10. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    I also caught this film for the first time on last night's airing on IFC. Very well done. I don't think Spike Lee portrayed blacks any differently than he knows them; I don't doubt that the folk living in Brooklyn do act like that. And to an extent they did act like animals. But Spike shows you their plight and to some extent why they act the way they do. They are rude and hostile to outsiders from different races, but isn't that the way they've been treated, too?
     
  11. Eric Franklin

    Eric Franklin Stunt Coordinator

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    LOL!!! Yes, I do mean "The Mayor". I guess i thought "The Doctor" 'cause "doctor" is what he calls everyone.
     
  12. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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  13. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I'd say something, but Lew already did. [​IMG] Good post.
    Hopefully that helped Rich. I think many of us see the film that way.
    IIRC, most races who did see the film had reactions a bit like yours (assuming your race here). Instead of walking in the other's shoes (as we might guess Spike's intent was) they just identified with their race and saw the other actions as "wrong".
    Blacks thought Sal had it coming, whites thought Mookie, or Buggin Out, etc were jerks, and so on.
    As I said, my guess is that we are supposed to see how confusing and somewhat "blameless" racism can be. Who is right? Everyone and no one.
    I've mentioned in other threads about films that often midway through the film the MAIN THEME is portrayed in dialog. In this case it's the sequence of racist complaints followed by Sam Jacksons "STOP! You all need to chill out." (or something like that)
    To me that plays more like Spike saying "yes, we understand that you each have these issues and there might even be some truth behind them, but just LET IT GO ALREADY."
    I think it's the only solution to the problem because "right" and "wrong" are far too confused in the matter to find a solution by "Doing the right thing". We don't know what the right thing is if we consider all sides of things.
     
  14. LaMarcus

    LaMarcus Screenwriter

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    This is a great discussion.
    Lew, Seth great post.
    To add on to what you said. That movie came out in what 88' 89'? And life imitated art in the riots of L.A when they did the same thing. Those stores in L.A didn't have anything to do with the verdict either, buy yet and still...
    I used to have that type of mind set coming from that life and those types of neighborhoods. You feel like you don't have nothin, and you'll do some dumb $#!t to vent your anger and show your pain. There's no logic in tearing up your own neighborhood to express your feelings. Since you'll still be there once the flames dies out. But at the same time when your doing it you feel like this is not really our neighborhood anyway, we don't own none of this stuff. If Sal didn't break Raheem's radio then, the police wouldn't have killed Raheem. That's the missed up logic you have in the ghetto, never mind Raheem should'nt have had his black ass in there in the first place. But Yo, that's just the thought process when you live in a fcuked up environment. And untill you make it out of that environment like I did, you don't see how messed up it really was. And until you live in that environment you won't understand how you would do the same thing too.
     
  15. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    My take on this film has always been linked to the title. It's not only a plea to us, it's a plea to all the characters in the film, because nobody does the right thing.

     
  16. Bryant Trew

    Bryant Trew Second Unit

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    I wish I had the time to really respond to this thread, but from what I've read so far, I think everyone has got it wrong. You have the concept of "Do The Right Thig." But exactly what is doing the right thing? Spike Lee planted scenario after scenario where it is impossible to say that one person is entirely right or wrong. You could take everyone from Sal right on down to Radio Raheem. While many of you have judged these characters as being right or wrong, I think that upon subsequent viewings and greater understanding you'll find that no one was right or wrong. No one was perfect. No one was guilt free. That is essentially what life is, and Spike does a masterful job of using race as a canvass. There is a whole lot of grey, instead of the black and white we try to see in life, and Do The Right Thing presents so many beautiful contradictions for us to think about.
     
  17. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Why did Radio Raheem refuse to turn down the radio? Why did Buggin' Out demand pictures of prominent black people to be placed on the walls of the pizeria?

    To them, it was a form of protest. Yes, of course it was silly. But they felt powerless to effect anything on a larger scale or on more important matters (one could argue that this is because education is not important in their lives for various reasons), so they rebelled in these trivial ways.

    Sal is not a diplomat, he is an average Joe. It would be a rare person who could recognise and handle the situation correctly.

    What a brilliant film. I need to pick up that Criterion!

    Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and Malcolm X are his masterpieces, IMO. I have not seen Mo' Better Blues or that one about basketball. I thought Bamboozled was a good idea and had the potential and talent to be something special, but it got lost within itself.

    Lee is arguably the most important film maker in the business.
     
  18. CharlyD

    CharlyD Extra

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    Don't forget about "4 Little Girls", Spike's excellent documentary regarding a church bombing in the south.

    BTW - I've always felt Sal brought alot of trouble upon himself with the "You do what you gotta do" line. The riot seemed inevitable at that point.
     
  19. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    It bothers me a bit how much I WASN'T bothered by the death of Radio Raheem's character. I guess it stems from the fact that I just plain didn't like the character. I mean, I liked how he was written but I didn't like the guy! He was overbearing and rude. In a film, when someone like that dies, you're used to not caring. In real life it would be different. I was surprised when he was about to die and I wanted the police to let him go so he could live, but when he did die I couldn't help but think it was the consequences of his own actions that got him there (assuming the police didn't kill him on PURPOSE). I dunno.
     
  20. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    The most brilliant thing about this movie is how it plays so differently to each individual. Overbearing and rude to you perhaps, but to others he was much more than that. A leader possibly? I agree that it takes several viewings to fully appreciate Spike's multi-layered masterpiece. One of the rare movies that is immensely entertaining yet gives you a lot to think about.
     

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