Important Themes In Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing

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Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing brings up many important themes, importantly, racism, order, and a person’s morals. One of the most important lines of the movie, inspiring the title, is when Da Mayor tells Mookie to “always…do the right thing.” This is important advice, but it brings up the question: do any of the characters in this movie really follow it? Sal’s interactions and reactions to his black customers, Buggin’ Out and Radio Raheem’s protest, and Mookie starting the riot are all main points of conflict in the movie, and they are points where the audience may realize that doing the right thing isn’t as clear as it may seem. The way that Sal interacts with his black customers, and particularly his dismissal of Buggin’ Out’s complaint …show more content…
The fact that Buggin’ Out leans more towards Malcom X’s way of solving racial issues, with aggressiveness noted by camera angles and Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” blasting, makes the audience wonder how the ending might have progressed if Buggin’ Out and his cohorts had staged a more peaceful protest, like they originally planned, and like that which King might have been more inclined. While the tumultuous protest certainly led to changes, the film seems to ask if the destruction of Sal’s pizzeria and the end of a single racial conflict worth the death of Radio Raheem; whether it was right to choose violence over peace. The audience was faced with whether Buggin’ Out did the right thing in confronting Sal as he did. The answer, while still up for some debate, is chiefly a no. The significance of the photo of the two activists is to emphasize how while they both had incredibly different philosophies, they had the same goal: racial equality. There were flaws in both of their systems, and here we see a flaw in Malcolm X’s: using violence may result in violence against yourself. Buggin’ Out’s violent confrontation of Sal essentially led to Radio Raheem’s death, and was not the right thing to do. This analysis isn’t saying it was wrong for Buggin’ Out to confront Sal, or to request to have brothers on the wall, but that the angry way in which …show more content…
While on the surface, causing a race riot and destroying property is obviously not the right thing to do, upon further analysis it’s not that simple. Property destruction may be a crime, but in this scene, the entire neighborhood just witnessed their friend and neighbor murdered by police and his body dragged away, all due to a white man’s refusal to include black people in the business that is largely supported by them. Mookie, who felt that anger and tension as much as anyone, threw the trashcan through the window. What he did was completely understandable and justified, and not easily defined as right or wrong. If the audience sees the destruction of Sal’s restaurant as unjustified and not understandable, they are implicitly placing more worth in the pizzeria than in Raheem’s life. However, whether it was intentional or not, Mookie did the right thing here by moving the conflict away from Sal, to his storefront. After the police leave with Raheem’s body, Sal and his family quickly feel the brunt of the aftermath, being the only white people left on the scene. The crowd surrounds them, and the film suggests that the physical violence will soon spread to them too. As Mookie throws the trashcan through the window, he places emphasis not on hurting the family, but instead the restaurant. Starting the

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