What is The Right Thing? (Extra Credit)

I am writing this blog simply because I still do not quite understand the meaning behind Do The Right Thing, especially the ending. I applaud Spike Lee for giving what feels like a balanced and fair view of race relations as it is inclusive towards other minority groups such as Hispanics and Asians. What I truly do not get is the ending. Sal damages Raheem’s radio and gets involved in a fight. What follows includes incidents of police brutality and the tragic death of a black man, all drawing harsh criticism from Mookie and others.

Of course, I acknowledge that Sal is a racist who ranted out racial slurs and called Radio Raheem’s music “jungle music”. However, I am just wondering what the right thing really is. Spike Lee also incorporated Malcolm X’s and MLK’s quotes, which seem contradictory as one is anti and one is pro-violence. Maybe what Spike Lee is trying to imply is that the right thing is not always white and black but instead muddled? What do you guys think?

One thought on “What is The Right Thing? (Extra Credit)

  1. Hi Kwan, I think your analysis is spot on and you understand the film’s themes quite well. I see that Lee intentionally leaves the question open to the audience while leaving the viewer with a hinted sentiment (within the credit scene) that the Right thing is within “necessary means” (perhaps somewhere in the middle of X’s and King’s ideology). That emphasizes that with race relations there isn’t a “Right” way for one to liberate themselves. With that logic, we could simply ask white supremacists to treat Black bodies with the same autonomy and respect as their counterparts. Lee is leaving the viewer with a message, a mandate, that there must be an alternative way to rightfulness if the oppressor is destructive, systematically wanting us to conform, and humanly disregarding Black individuals. What makes this story so special, while clearly not written for a white audience, is it highlights a story of a small neighborhood in NYC, with people who have -seemingly- no political power to shift movements as great as the one Lee is proposing. But even with this geographical restriction, the characters and a regular working man such as Mookie must make a big decision towards the Right thing. To me — the true message behind the story is power in the individual and a message to the viewer that every radical individual is impacted by the powers of “love and hate” as Radio Raheem so powerfully repeated.

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