dir.: Spike Lee
Spine Number: 97
Do the Right Thing is a film about race in New York City in 1989. The film is about a day in the life of a the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of New York City. The first two-thirds of the film is built similarly to many small-town films of the past, the Last Picture Show comes to mind, and is a fairly solid comedy film, through which you meet the cast and learn a little of their lives. In the last act everything everything changes; it is a mirror between the late 80s, now, and, sadly, every other time in American society.
I used to think that I had an idea about the lives of minorities but the more I think about it, learn, and the more I have seen I now understand that my ignorance and white privilege was really holding me back from fully understanding what it means to be an American.
Watching Do the Right Thing didn’t show me anything that I haven’t seen on the news but it introduced me to the people who are killed. He is Radio Rakeem and I had a chance to meet him; to see his life, and see what he meant to the community and what the community meant to him. You learnig about how there is this constant battle between love and hate. I can see that, now.
Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee’s directorial debut and it is fairly easy to see various aspects of the film that appear to be novice errors but in my studies it is in debut pictures that really embodies the directors experience or the writer’s experience. It is fresh to the point that you can truly see the director’s desire to help make people understand; in this case it is the experience of being black in America.
I wish that I could go back and call a mulligan on the last 35 years of knowing what I know now about race and gender relations but I can’t. I have to move forward. We have to move forward; and we have to learn and we have to educate.