Do The Right Thing: A Movie with Hidden Messages?
With its 90’s flare of boom boxes and box tops, Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” draws in audiences who love the era. The film depicts an urban neighborhood during an extra hot summer’s day. However, in this movie throwback clothing and summer heat influenced conflict aren’t the only thing the crowds are getting; Director Lee repeatedly sends out messages to his audience. Using rhetorical situations Lee is able to cause his audience to question scenes throughout the picture.
Characters such as Mookie, and Pino cause the mind to wonder, can there be lazy hard-working people? Or are there racist black loving people? The movie spins a tale of it being possible to be lazy while hard-working, just look at Mookie, he’s goes to work religiously but still lazes around on the job. All the while neglecting his duties as a parent, which his sister, Jade, calls him out on. This causes the viewers to question the meaning of effort; it’s a message that seems to say, hard work without any ambition or effort is not truly hard work. Furthermore, Pino, Sal’s oldest son, to the on-looker is blatantly racist. However, through dialogue with Mookie we learn that the majority of his idols, like Magic Johnson and Bruce Willis, are black. Pino denies this saying “they aren’t really black”, but it instantly brings a series of questions to mind; is subconscious racism a thing? Do we, as Americans, once someone is famous elevate them from their heritage? Lee’s obvious message of this scene is that there is racism in everything.
This also brings to light questions about Vito, Sal’s youngest son and Pino’s little brother; if Pino represents subconscious racism, what does Vito represent? White Silence or those who willingly turn a blind eye to issues in front of them? The younger brother willing allows his older brother to force his ideals upon him and says nothing about it. Similar to the scene with the cops and the fire hydrant, the officers were familiar with the area and could have easily made an arrest after the kids caused water damaged the vehicle of a passerby. Still the law enforcement take things a step further by saying “If you want to swim go to Coney Island”, knowing that at the time Coney Island was a racist (to some it still is) place that didn’t like non-whites in the area. A perfect example of White Silence and subconscious racism.
The film even sends out the message of how tragedy brings folks together with the death of Radio Raheem. In the aftermath of his demise, all the parts of the neighborhood come together in a fit of violence, but together no less. The put aside their differences to voice their outrage at what occurred at Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, the death of Radio Raheem, taking their anger out on pizza polar.
Spike Lee’s film “Do The Right Thing” with its scenic messages not only makes one question things but also questions its viewers.