- June 26, 2020
Mumtaz Ali 2
Themesof Conflict in the movie “Do the Right Thing”
Dothe Right Thing isa movie that depicts the lives of racially different persons whotrace their existence to a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn,New York. Spike Lee, the director of the film, emphasizes the dilemmathat these individuals are usually exposed to in their day to daylives by shooting all the events that take place in the movie in aday. Lee selects the hottest day in the summer to bring to the frontthe troubles that the different personalities concerned go through,even during the regular days of their lives (YouTube).The concepts of race, social class, and moral decisions emergesomewhat distinctly. The decisions that the characters in the filmmake affect the events that take place in the movie profoundly. Thetitle of the film is rather easy to understand however, the plot andsetting of the film makes comprehending the underlying themesdifficult. As regards to the setting, the film takes place in aneighborhood during a sunny spell. Most episodes are limited to thissetting and this conceals the themes of peace and conflict thatunderpin the core of Dothe Right Thing andshade light to emerging themes.
Peaceis signified in a way that it conflicts the idea that underlies thefilm. The first scene of the movie brings a Puerto Rican image to thesurface. A group of Puerto Rican men is seen, and the sound of salsamusic plays aloud. The extensive use of iconography in the sceneprompts the audience to develop a stereotypical image since theclothes that the men have worn, their facial appearance and theirlanguage resembles that of Latin Americans (YouTube).One of the men speaks Spanish, admiring his Puerto Rican homeland.His friend, however, does not share a similar perception he callsthe region a nightmare. One of the characters feels that the PuertoRican expanse is a beautiful and promising place while hiscounterpart believes that the region is nothing like what his frienddescribes. Furthermore, the revelation that this neighborhood isdifferent from the rest is also conceived. As the two friendscontinue with their argument, viewers understand that the loud, salsamusic is from an old radio. A young African American man, RadioRaheem, own a relatively new sound system that gradually drowns thesalsa music with a rap tune. The camera brings the image of Raheem toemphasize the sentiments that the two friends reveal. The developmentof the plot subtly show how the characters co-exist peacefully evenwith varying preferences.
Thedepiction of the Puerto Rican old music system against Raheem’s newstereo shows the predicament that is inherent in the movie. Raheem’ssound system is new, and the sound that it plays is thunderous(YouTube).Lee emphasizes his point by bringing up the image of the Radio fromlow angle shot which shows that Radio Raheem is in a dominatingangle. The camera moves unhurriedly and stops when the image of thelarge, new personal stereo is seen. Lee proceeds to highlight hispoint by revealing the large African American hands of the youngsterRaheem has gold knuckle jewelry on his hands. Nonetheless, Lee`sfetishizing comes to the front since he only displays what the youngadult is wearing as opposed to also showing his face. The camerapauses and the audience can visibly see the "Super and PRO"logo of the stereo relatively well (YouTube).This depiction reveals the economic excess that exists in theneighborhood well. The jewelry and stereo that Radio Raheem iswearing bring status and economic power to the front.
Thedepiction of social class paves way to conflict as emphasized in thecamera, once again, rotating and showing Raheem’s stern face andthe African medallion that hangs on his neck. This image, for asecond time, brings out iconography. As the camera focuses on Radio,the sound of Puerto Ricans shouting at the top of their voices thattheir music is being drowned is heard (YouTube).This disclosure makes known the inequality that exists between thetwo groups. On the one hand, the Puerto Ricans are depicted as theindividuals that are in possession of the old and worn out itemswhile the African-Americans are the owners of the shiny andup-to-the-minute products. The sound of the Puerto Ricans shoutingthat their music is being drowned is an indication of the way theirvoice or identity is usually overshadowed by that of the Blacks orthe way that the authority figures ignore their rights. The cameraalso zoomsto theright, bringing green bushes that indicate a tropical climate toview. This foliage shows the link between the soothing salsa musicand Puerto Ricans relatively distinctly.
Themessage that the two music genres send also reveals the peace andconflict theme. On the one hand, salsa signifies calmness andtranquility while, on the other, rap music relates to ruggedness. AsRadio Raheem listens to his music, one cannot help but see how closehe is to the Puerto Ricans (YouTube).His sound system also seems relatively new and stronger when comparedto that of the Spanish indigenes. Raheem`s desire to show hiseconomic might is symbolized distinctly. Radio Raheem’s ability totune his music high, compared to the Spanish, shows the clash thatexists between the two races. While one ethnic group (Puerto Ricans)wishes to be heard, the other (African-Americans) silences it.Although the Puerto Rican man tries to adjust his radio to overwhelmRadio’s rap music, Raheem turns the knob on his radio and drownsthe Puerto Rican music once again. Upon realizing that he cannot winthe battle against Raheem, the Puerto Rican man turned down the musicon his radio and told Radio Raheem that he had won the battle. Thisbehavior shows that the Latin American nation prefers peace tounnecessary struggles.
Theracial struggles shift from individuals going into the second sceneafter Radio Raheem is killed by the police for getting into a fightwith Sal, an Italian American to the community. This scene shows howthe marginal groups become the victims of circumstance. AfterRaheem’s death, the audience comes to the realization that Radio’sdeath is not an accident but an everyday occurrence (YouTube).The residents of the Brooklyn neighborhood are seen complaining aboutthe police brutality that they are continually exposed to. Onceagain, the theme of peace and conflict emerges. In the previousscene, Raheem was seen intimidating the Puerto Ricans however, inthis scene, the entire Brooklyn society is up in arms after Raheem’sdeath. Simply put, although conflict exists among the members of thecommunity, the whole neighborhood struggles to find peace. Radio’sbehavior may not have been the best, but since the police attackedhim in a manner that the society considers brutal, the public decidedto defend him. In fact, an older man exclaimed that even thoughRaheem was an intimidating individual, he was relatively young andthe police did not have to kill him.
Thesecond scene shows the significance of social support as opposed toeconomic status in a, somewhat, distinct fashion. Financial status isusually associated with comfort and satisfaction while social supportrelates to the spirit of togetherness (YouTube).Sal is a wealthy and well-allied individual. Nonetheless, he has notwon the loyalty of the neighborhood or his employees. Thisrealization comes to the front when Mookie, Sal`s employee, walksaway from Sal and his two sons. Also, In spite of Raheem`s unlikablecharacter, the community decided to support him. Sal`s face alsobecomes tenser, after Mookie decided to join the neighborhood in thefight against police brutality. This portrayal, once again, makesknown the power of social support when compared with economic status.In essence, the scene shows the peace and conflict theme byhighlighting the unconventional way in which the wealthy seembewildered by the occurrences in society and the manner in which theless privileged seem collected and focused on fighting for theirrights.
Thescene also shows the way that oppression drives the peaceful, poorpeople into rage and conflict. Sal and his sons are portrayed as agroup of white, affluent individuals while the Brooklyn neighborhoodappears black. The Sal family seems like a group of people who thrivein oppressing others. The community reacts by standing for its rightsagainst the oppressors. In this case, the Blacks rose in arms againstthe White family even though Raheem was the one who was at fault(YouTube).The group, seemingly, does not recognize the mistake of their own.The rage and oppression that this group has been exposed to,apparently, blinds them from distinguishing the fault of Raheem.Before this event, the entire community co-existed peacefully, butthis occurrence led to the development of conflict, where the societybreaks into Sal`s store, smashes everything, and eventually, lootsthe store.
Ina recap of the above discussion, the film Dothe Right Thing bringsthe themes of peace and conflict to the surface in a relativelytransparent manner. The film illustrates the existence of raciallydifferent persons that trace their survival to a blue-collarneighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. The predicament that theseindividuals in question are exposed to, in their day to day lives, isstressed by the manner in which the director shoots all the eventsthat take place in the movie. Lee selects the hottest day in thesummer to highlight the problems that the different personalitiesthat are concerned go through these troubles appear even during theordinary days of their lives. The concepts of race, social class, andmoral decisions come out somewhat distinctly. The choices of thecharacters in the film have a profound effect on the events that takeplace. In essence, the title of the movie is somewhat easy tounderstand however, the setting of the film makes the underlyingthemes of peace and conflict difficult to comprehend but to lightthemes of racial discrimination and conflict.
YouTube.DoThe Right Thing.1989. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd8F_Oyj3JE