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“Do The Right Thing’s” Explorations of Interracial Tensions Are Still Relevant Today

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I’m a sixteen year old student who attends school in Atlanta. After watching the movie “Do The Right Thing,” I definitely, clearly received the message. The messages that director Spike Lee presents in this 1989 movie are still very relevant to this day. Watching the movie for the first time, I saw that Spike Lee utilized several means of symbolism, from characters to even the temperature. The overall message dealt principally with interracial tensions, which is still a major issue and especially relevant to teens today.

DO_THE_RIGHT_THINGThe title itself is a message: “Do The Right Thing.” Throughout the movie, Lee provides several circumstances in which the situation could have gone a different way, good or bad, and he leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether or not the “right” thing was done based on the outcome. For example, Spike Lee’s character Mookie’s friend Buggin’ Out (played by Giancarlo Esposito) is upset about the neighborhood pizzeria’s Wall of Fame and its lack of colored people. He has choices to make — whether to use MLK’s non-violent methods and boycott the restaurant or use Malcolm X’s methods and be confrontational. Initially, Buggin’ Out attempts non-confrontation but eventually changes his methods. The outcome is the destruction of a neighborhood restaurant and the death of a friend.

Again, Lee leaves it up the the audience to decide whether or not the “right” thing was done. Throughout the movie, the old man, Da Mayor (played by Ossie Davis), is used as a personification of the title, “Do The Right Thing.”

In almost every conflict, he is there trying to incite peace and prevent conflict from escalating by reminding other characters of the consequences of their actions. It is through the Da Mayor character that I realize that Spike Lee favored peace and unity.

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