Do The Right Thing
- Length: 1842 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)
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The first scene begins with a close up shot of Senor Love Daddy's mouth, the
top of a microphone, and an alarm clock. The alarm clock, being used as a prop, is
making a very loud, annoying, ringing sound. This is done in order to get the
viewers attention to the problem of racism. After the ringing stops, we start
reframing in, and zooming out slowly, seeing more of Senor Love Daddy and the
microphone. There is hard lighting present in the scene. The entire shot has a
reddish color to it. A slow zoom and the reddish color are used to show the viewer
how hot the setting of the movie is. The color also reflects tension, conflict, anger,
and frustration, things that are not being expressed in the film yet. As we are
zooming out, Senor Love Daddy says "Wake up, wake up, wake up…" This part of
the scene is also is intended to get the viewers attention to the problem of racism.
The foreground and some of the middle ground are in shallow focus. This is a get in
your face type of shot, letting the viewer know that this movie will be in your face
for the next two hours and that the viewer better pay attention to the problem at
hand: racism. This shot is solely for the viewers, to get their attention. We stop
zooming out once we see the whole microphone. At that point, we start tracking out
and the camera starts moving slowly up, via a crane. We now see the reflection of
the street outside Senor Love Daddy's workplace, on the glass window Senor Love
Daddy is facing. We also see hats of many different cultures sitting Senor Love
Daddy's desk. This shows that he respects many different cultures and shows he is
a very open person. Also Senor Love Daddy's workplace is street level. He talks to
all the characters in the movie like Mookie, Radio Raheem, and the people playing
outside with the fire hydrant. This shows he is willing to communicate with the
neighborhood and also show once again that he is a very open person. He is always
looking outside the window at the community. Senor Love Daddy is not hiding from
anybody. He is the voice of the neighborhood. The camera continues moving up on
a crane until it is at an high angle, and we start panning to the left.
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|Do The Right Thing Essay - Director and actor Spike Lee presents his "truth" about race relations in his movie Do the Right Thing. The film exhibits the spectacle of black discrimination and racial altercations. Through serious, angry, and loud sounds, Lee stays true to the ethnicity of his characters, all of which reflect their own individualism. Lee uses insulting diction and intense scenes to show how severe racism can lead to violence. The disturbing scene where different nationalities badger their opinions on each other shows poor communication and horrible stereotyping.... [tags: essays research papers]||534 words|
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|Do the right thing Essay - The weather is sizzling hot and tensions are slowly coming to a boil in this Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn neighborhood. Slowly but surely we see the heat melt away the barriers that were keeping anger from rising to the surface. The Blacks and the Hispanics own the streets the Koreans own the corner store and of course the Italians own the pizzeria, the Cops who happen to be all Caucasian, prowl the streets inside out, looking for anyone to harass. Toes are then stepped on and apologies are not made.... [tags: essays research papers]||1065 words|
Pay Attention Viewer Alarm Stops Desk Viewers Talks Shot Hats Daddy
While we are
panning to the left we see that Senor Love Daddy works at FM 108. Also written on
the bottom of the building are the words "WE LOVE". This is very ironic since the
ending of the movie shows anything but love. We pan to the left until we see the
street this movie primarily takes place in. While the camera is at an high angle,
there is a deep focus, extreme long shot of the street, to show the neighborhood to
the viewer and to give the viewer some sense of spatial orientation. The reddish
color is still being used to show the intense heat and reflect the things mentioned
The next scene begins with a high angle, long shot of Da Mayor sleeping in a
small bed in a bedroom. Coming from a broken blind covering the window, are a
combination of amber, orange, and red colors. The colors are shown on Da Mayor,
his bed and other surroundings near him. This is done to show the intense heat of
the setting and to show the frustration and tension still not yet present on the film.
We see that the room is very cluttered and small. It's obvious that the inhabitant
doesn't have much money. He is lying down on the bed so still he looks dead; he
resembles a corpse. This is done by Lee to emphasize how ineffective this character
is. Lee wants us to think how ineffective Da Mayor is going to be in this movie, and
how this character is not good for a whole lot. Lee wants us to stereotype him based
on what we see. Next the camera zooms in very slowly. We see a really old radio
turned on, on the left side, and a really old fan that is turned on, on the right side,
that doesn't seem to be doing anything to reduce the heat. We hear Senor Love
Daddy's voice coming from Da Mayor's radio. The radio, along with the tracking
out of the first scene and the zooming in at the beginning of this scene, help ties these
two scenes together. In essence, the linking shot is done with lens movement. As the
camera zooms in, we see the enormous amount of sweat on Da Mayor's body and
lots of beer bottles on a table by the side of the bed. Next Da Mayor gets up, moves
the blind, looks out the window, and lies back down. This is done to show that it is
one of those days you wish you slept through.
The next scene begins with low angle, medium shot of Smiley. He has a very
large church behind him to serve as the background. Use of the low angle shot
makes the church look huge. Lee does this low angle shot to create an amazing and
dramatic effect. The church has a reddish color due to its red brick construction.
This once again is done to emphasize the intense heat and to tie this scene with the
previous two. We notice that Smiley has a beard making him look like a prophet or
preacher. Interestingly enough, Smiley is the only character in the entire movie
with a beard. Smiley is wearing a red/pink faded long sleeve shirt, khakis, and has a
black belt on; a very old fashioned ensemble. Smiley is very conservatively dressed
considering it's a very hot day. He has a yellow tape player around his neck and is
holding a picture in his hands, but we can't tell of what the picture is. The yellow
color of the tape player here serves as a warning sign to us. We meet Smiley while
he is preaching an important message and we see that nobody is there to listen to it.
As we listen to Smiley preach, we notice that he has a speech impairment. This
impairment is the reason no one listens to him. Smiley is preaching a very
important message but no one in the movie realizes it till its to late. Prophets in this
movie are looked upon as outcasts and Smiley is an outcast with an important
message. The church plays no role in the film and we never see it again. Lee is
either telling us that people in the neighborhood are not taking advantage of the
church or the church is ineffectual and is doing nothing. The church in this movie is
a lost cause. This shows that religion does not play a serious role in these people
The next shot of this scene is a close up shot of the picture Smiley is holding.
We see that Smiley is holding pictures of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther
King. Both these men were assassinated because of their beliefs. Smiley draws an X
on Malcolm X, and a crown on Dr. Martin Luther King with a red marker. This is
warning sign by Lee, to get people to think about finding solutions to the racism
The third shot of this scene has the same setup as the opening shot of this
scene. The important aspect of this scene is Smiley talking about the fight against
apartheid. However, Smiley pronounces it "Apart hate" because of his speech
impairment. There is no discrimination officially in the United States, but apartheid
is apparent. Smiley is a combination of races. He's perfect for this role because he
represents all, not just one. Also he is a very deliberate choice to choose for this
role, because Smiley has a disability. Lighting in this shot is high key, very bright,
with few or no shadows in the background.
In the next scene you immediately notice strong backlighting with a
silhouette of Mookie. The shades on the window are an unpleasant volatile, intense
red. Haziness in shot indicates some sort of filter was used. The filter gives the shot
a murky and mysterious appearance. Low key lighting is used, very strong key light
from back is apparent, and there is little or no fill light. The camera is positioned at
an extreme long shot and the camera height is waist high. This height is used
because Mookie is sitting on a bed. As we move in behind Mookie, we can tell the
shot is being filmed with a hand held camera. Mookie's wearing a white Bull's
jersey with Jordan's number stitched in red on the back. As we move in, we notice
he is counting money. We see Mookie is a young black man with a fade, hipster
haircut. His haircut suits the time the movie takes place in. Mookie has a small
silver earring in one ear. Mookie is wearing a leather bracelet with shells on it and a
medallion shaped like Africa. This shows that Mookie has cultural heritage and
pride. It looks as if we are sneaking up on Mookie as we move up on him. It looks
like we are watching an episode of COPS. We stop at a close up shot of him
counting money. We are being set up by Lee to think that there is no way Mookie
earned the money in his hand legally. Lee wants us to stereotype and racially profile
Mookie. Every characteristic of Mookie in this scene makes him appear as a
criminal. There is a large picture of a dollar bill in the corner while Mookie is
counting his money. This shows that he likes money, he wants more. We see a
hide-a-bed. He is probably not in this current dwelling permanently. The bed is
used as a temporary means to sleep in.
In the second shot of this scene we get a close up shot of Jade. She is sleeping
and the color pink is very apparent in this shot. It shows that Jade is very tranquil
and peaceful. Next Mookie comes over to bother Jade and wake her up. Mookie
says "Wake up, wake up…" This is done to tie the first scene with Senor Love
Daddy to this one, as it reminds us of Senor Love Daddy and the first scene. We
start zooming out slowly and are in shallow focus as we start to learn about these
two characters. Through Mookie and Jade's conversation we learn that they are
brother and sister. We learn that Jade must work a lot since she says Saturday is
the only day she can sleep in. She tells Mookie to get to work and from this we can
tell that she is the responsible one of the two. The scene concludes by Mookie
getting up off the bed and going to work.
Leaving the theater after the tumultuous world premiere of Do the Right Thing at Cannes in May of 1989, I found myself too shaken to speak, and I avoided the clusters of people where arguments were already heating up. One American critic was so angry she chased me to the exit to inform me, “This film is a call to racial violence!” I thought not. I thought it was a call to empathy, which of all human qualities is the one this past century seemed most to need.
Perhaps I was too idealistic, but it seemed to me that any open-minded member of the audience would walk out of the movie able to understand the motivations of every character in the film—not forgive them, perhaps, but understand them. A black viewer would be able to understand the feelings of Sal, the Italian-American whose pizzeria is burned by a mob, and a white viewer would be able to understand why a black man—who Sal considered his friend—would perform the action that triggers the mob.
It is this evenhandedness that is at the center of Spike Lee’s work, and yet it is invisible to many of his viewers and critics. Because he is black and deals with anger, he has been categorized as an angry man. However, it is not anger, but rather a certain detached objectivity that I see in his best work. His subject is the way race affects the way lives are lived in America. More than any filmmaker before him, he has focused his stories on African-American characters, considering not how they relate to the white society, or it to them, but how they relate to each other. School Daze is no less about skin color because all of its characters are black. Jungle Fever is not only about a romance between black and white, but about all of the social, class and educational factors that race stands in for. Malcolm X is about a man who never abandons his outrage at racism, but comes to understand that skin color should not define who he can call his brother.
In Do the Right Thing, the subject is not simply a race riot, but the tragic dynamic of racism, racial tension, and miscommunication, seen in microcosm. The film is a virtuoso act of creation, a movie at once realistic and symbolic, lighthearted and tragic, funny and savage; one of the reasons we recoil at the end is that we thought, somehow, the people of this neighborhood, this street, whom we had come to know, would not be touched by the violence in the air all around them. We knew them all, Da Mayor and Radio Raheem, as well as Sal and his sons. And they knew each other. Surely nothing bad could come between them.
And yet something bad does happen. Radio Raheem is murdered; Sal’s Pizzeria is destroyed. Spike Lee has been clever enough to make us sympathize with Sal, to like him and his pizzeria, so that it is not an easy target but a shocking one. And Lee twists the story once again, making the instrument of Sal’s downfall not a “negative” character but the one we like the most, and identify with: Mookie, the delivery man played by Lee himself. The woman who found the movie a call to violence was most disturbed, I suspect, because it was Mookie who threw the trash can—Mookie, who the movie led her to like and trust. How could he do such a thing to Sal?
The answer to that question is right there on the screen, but was elusive for some viewers, who recoiled from the damage done to Sal’s property but hardly seemed to notice, or remember, that the events were set in motion by the death of a young black man at the hands of the police. Among the many devastating effects of Lee’s film, certainly the most subtle and effective is the way it leads some viewers (not racist, but thoughtless or inattentive or imbued with the unexamined values of our society) to realize that they have valued a pizzeria over a human life.
I have written here more about Lee’s ideas than about his style. To an unusual degree, you could not have one without the other: style is the magician’s left hand, distracting and entertaining us while the right hand produces the rabbit from the hat. It’s not what Lee does that makes his film so devastating, but how he does it. Do the Right Thing is one of the best-directed, best-made films of our time, a film in which the technical credits, the acting, and Lee’s brazenly fresh visual style all work together to make a statement about race in America that is all the more powerful because it blindsides us.
Do the Right Thing was the finest, the most controversial, most discussed and most important film of 1989. Of course, it was not nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture (that award went to Driving Miss Daisy, which has a view of race in America that is rotated just 180 degrees from Lee’s). To an extent, I think some viewers have trouble seeing the film; it is blurred by their deep-seated ideas and emotions about race in America, which they project onto Lee, assuming he is angry or bitter. On the basis of this film it would be more accurate to call him sad, observant, realistic—or empathetic.
Roger Ebert is the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.