(extra credit) Narrative Ambiguity in Do the Right Thing

In the reading, “Do the Right Thing” the main thing that fascinated me was the attention to narrative ambiguity in the film. Do the Right Thing challenges the conventions of classical filmmaking through its deviation from a clear and linear narrative structure. Classical films often feature a well-defined protagonist, antagonist, and a resolution that neatly ties up loose ends. In contrast, Spike Lee’s film opts for a narrative that embraces multiple perspectives and presents morally ambiguous choices, deliberately refraining from offering easy answers or traditional resolutions. Instead, the film encourages viewers to engage with the events and characters on their own terms, fostering a more complex and nuanced understanding of the issues at hand.

One notable aspect of this narrative complexity is reflected in the diverse cast of characters, each with conflicting viewpoints. For instance, Sal, the Italian-American owner of the pizzeria, holds a different perspective on race relations compared to Mookie, the African-American delivery guy. The film refrains from endorsing one character’s viewpoint over another, allowing the audience to witness the intricate layers of racial tensions from various angles.

The death of Radio Raheem serves as a gut wrenching and tragic moment within the narrative. However, the circumstances surrounding his death defy a simplistic portrayal of good versus evil. While the police are responsible for Raheem’s untimely demise, the film avoids reducing the situation to one-dimensional villainy on the part of the officers. Instead, it raises important questions about police brutality, systemic racism, and the complexities inherent in the individuals involved, challenging viewers to grapple with the multifaceted nature of the issues explored. Furthermore, Do the Right Thing deliberately avoids providing a conventional resolution. Following the climactic events of the riot, the film concludes with two conflicting quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. This deliberate lack of a neat conclusion or moral lesson leaves the audience to contemplate the meaning and implications of the film’s events independently, fostering an environment for interpretation and discussion.

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