Do the Right Thing Ambiguity (Viewer)

‘Do the Right Thing’ is a movie directed by Spike Lee which is a testimony to the quote, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. The film is set in a neighborhood where most of the residents are African-American. There is a convenience store that is run by a Korean person and a pizzeria run by an Italian person named Sal. When put together, they represent a melting pot of a society similar to America.

The title of the movie is ‘Do The Right Thing’, but in the entirity of the movie, we fail to understand who was in the right and who was in the wrong. The last scene of the movie can help us understand the entire movie. This scene was the last conversation between Mookie and Sal. When Mookie goes to Sal to ask for his money, they both realize that they lost something important to them over petty grievences and arguements. Sal lost his legacy of the pizzeria and had his means of livelihood destroyed, Mookie on the other hand lost his friend Raheem and lost his job.

It is also interesting to note the difference between the reaction of the Korean man to the angry mob and Sal’s reaction to the protestors. Sal tried to stand his ground and resorted to violence by breaking Raheem’ radio, this led to Raheem getting angry and resorting violence as well. On the other hand, the Korean man did not try to use violent methods, but acknowledge the protestors and accepting their demands and saying the “phrase I am black”, which means that he is looking at the similarities than differences which was a mistake made by Sal. This incident is the perfect example of An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

I also noted the difference in Sal’s reaction to Jade and Da Mayor compared to that of Raheem. Jade and Da Mayor were nice to Sal and would treat him as a fellow human being rather than focusing on the differences between them. Raheem was not co-opeartive towards Sal and thus Sal’s had feelings of Hostility towards him. This movie also gives us a beautiful message of give respect to get respect.

Also a part that surprised and intrigued me the most was that the entire movie, Da Mayor was called crazy and a maniac, but he ended up being one of the most sane and smartest person in the whole neighborhood. He knew that the entire neighborhood was looking at their differences and they were aggressive towards one another and he tried to stop them, but he failed. This really holds a mirror to the society, the people who preach peace and civility are often considered as crazy and lunatics.

I believe that ‘Do The Right Thing’ is an exceptional movie and it deserves its place in the list of classics. A movie like this sends a strong message to the society and we would be wise to understand and implement this into our lives.

3 thoughts on “Do the Right Thing Ambiguity (Viewer)

  1. I agree that “Do the Right Thing” effectively embodies the quote, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” As you mentioned, that final scene was a great way that idea was presented on the screen. Mookie couldn’t care less about what happened to Sal and his shop, only wanting money from his boss whose life he just ruined. All this happens at the steps of the still soot covered ruins of the shop. An eye for an eye resulted in a man with his life gone and another man with no job to support his family.

  2. I really like this analysis. While watching the film I was trying to discern who the film thinks is the protagonist, or at least the morally righteous side. This was made difficult by the multi-dimensional aspect of each character in the film. Mookie appears to be the protagonist for most of the film, but he definitely has some flaws. He is an absent father, not a very hard worker, and he kicks off the riot that destroys a mans livelihood. Sal has some decent moral principles, but when push comes to shove he resorts to violence and racism, which is seen amplified in his sons, especially the eldest. The rest of the characters also are complex, with moments that both build them up and tear them down. As a result, I was very confused about what side Spike Lee was coming from. The final quotes from Dr. King and Malcom X are the moments that reveal the true meaning of the film, and for that reason I find this to be an apt analysis by Aditya.

  3. Hello Aditya,
    I really liked your analysis of the film and I resonate with the points that you have brought up here. I think each person in the movie had an approach to resolve these conflicts – like you said that the Korean couple try to look at the similarities while Radio Raheem is trying to find differences. The King and MalcolmX picture at the end made this point pretty clear – that peace and violence sometimes goes hand in hand and that it is hard to decide which approach is right when we look at ways to resolve conflicts and oppression. I think this film is great in illustrating this point and inviting the viewers to reflect on these complicated issues.

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