Do The Right Thing


Do The Right Thing Essay, Research Paper

The movie, Do the Right Thing, by Spike Lee is a hard

hitting drama that deals with violence and racism in today’s

society. This film is set in a primarily black neighborhood in

close to the present time. Right in the center of this

neighborhood stands a pizza parlor that is owned and

operated by one of the most important characters in the

movie, Sal. In the beginning of the movie, Sal is shown

arriving to work with his two sons Pino and Vito. This gives

an appeal to Sal as a family man. Right from the start Sal is

portrayed as a hard working, kind, and devoted individual.

Just the fact that he owns his own business in these rough

and tough times shows that he is a smart, efficient, and

dedicated man. Later in the movie we learn that Sal did in

fact build his pizzeria by himself from the ground up, brick

by brick, board by board which was no little task indeed.

The fact that Sal gets to share his creation and hard work

with his sons makes it all the more special to him. After Sal

has finished his pre-opening preparations Sal’s Pizzeria is

open for the day. Shortly after this, the main character of

the movie, Mookie, comes strolling into the restaurant.

Mookie works as the delivery man for Sal in this movie.

Mookie literally delivers pizza, yes, but he also acts as a

mediator between the two races. Sal relies on Mookie not

only to get the pizzas delivered, but to also keep his fellow

black folks happy with Sal so they will come and patronize

his restaurant. I think that this shows a very interesting side

of Sal. It for the most part pawns him off as a racist. On the

one hand he can put on a happy face and greet all the black

people as they shell their hard earned money out to him for

his pizza, while on the other hand he turns into a bigot,

hating most black people and talking behind their back

while they are not around. Now I say most black people

because Sal seems to have this father-son bond going on

between him and Mookie where Sal is the white father and

Mookie the black son who in the end finally rebels like all

siblings do at some time in their life. Also Sal seems to have

some kind of affection or love for Mookie’s sister, Jade.

When she enters the pizza parlor Sal insists, if not begs to

make her some special slices of pizza. He then drops what

he is doing to go sit and visit with her. This shows another

awkward side of Sal. Is Sal considering some sort of

interracial relationship here? I mean Jade is only

approximately 20-25 years old where Sal has to be at least

50-55. Is Sal changing his attitude toward black people?

Hardly. This might prompt one to ask themselves if Sal is a

racist then why does he own a restaurant in the middle of a

black neighborhood. Well as Sal explains to Pino early in

the movie it is purely business. Sal knows that he is not able

to compete with the large restaurant chains, so he must

travel to someone else’s turf to make a go of it. This is a

point that is expressed in Bell Hooks Counter Hegemonic

essay. She says that a scary, conservative idea voiced over

and over again in the film is that everybody is safest in their

"own" neighborhood and that it is best if we remain with

people like ourselves. Now this doesn’t seem to hold true

for Sal and his pizzeria at first. Just look at the facts, he has

been in this neighborhood for at least 15 to 20 years

without any problems that we are made aware of.

Obviously he must be making a profit or he would have

shut down years ago. The way I see it is that the main

problem with Sal these days is that he isn’t in the business

for the love of it anymore, he is in it for the money. After all

of these years making pizza he has lost some of the fire that

always got him going. I would be willing to bet that when

Sal first opened up his pizza joint he was superficially

friendly to all the people, including the black people, that

came into his establishment. Through the years though Sal

has built up some sort of grudge or hatred against a variety

of black people that he has been holding inside and it is at

the end of the movie that he reaches his limit of tolerance

and blows his top. The movie and Sal’s character for that

matter really start to take a turn for the worse when Buggin

Out comes into the restaurant for a slice. While he is

enjoying his slice he happens to notice that there are no

black people on the wall. This angers Buggin Out and leads

him to go ask Sal to put some up. This allows us to see

another side of Sal. Sal pretty much come from the old

school of thinking where he owns this place and things are

going to be done his way, right away, or no way. He

doesn’t even open his mind to new ideas. This shows that

he is a very domineering and overpowering individual who

fears change. This fear leads him into a shouting match with

Buggin Out who insists that he will form a boycott against

Sal’s and that none of his friends will every eat there again.

Here Sal again relies on Mookie to smooth things over so

this boycott really does not happen. Mookie really doesn’t

have to work to hard because Sal’s pizza is well liked in the

community. Day has turned into night and it is getting near

closing time. The second after the doors are shut and

locked four kids show up at the door wanting a slice. Here

Sal shows his nice side and lets them because after all they

love his pizza and he can’t fault them for that. Right after Sal

lets them in Buggin Out and Radio Raheem (who had

previous encounters similar to those of Buggin Out with

Sal) storm into Sal’s Pizzeria with the radio blaring, a big

pet peeve of Sal’s, demanding that Sal put some black

people up on the wall and they aren’t leaving until he does

it. Sal won’t even deal with them until they turn that music

down, so since Raheem and Buggin Out refuse to turn the

music down they just stand there and shout at each other

for a while. At first when they are shouting the four black

kids that came in earlier are on Sal’s side because they

want to get their slices. However as the shouting match

continues Sal says something that makes every black

person irate and every white person cringe because they

know that something bad is going to end up happening. Sal

says something to the effect of "you niggers have no right to

come into my restaurant and tell me what I can and cannot

hang on my wall." The character played by Martin

Lawrence then stands up and says "oh so we’re niggers

now?" It all goes down hill from there. The question now is

did Mookie do the right thing as far as from Sal’s aspect? I

believe he did and I think Sal, although he might not admit,

thinks this way also! If Mookie had not thrown that

garbage can threw that window and started that riot Sal

would have never been able to make a go of it in that

neighborhood again because the people now knew that he

was two-faced. They knew what he really thought of them

and I don’t think they would have been ever been able to

patronize such a persons establishment again. At the end

when Mookie goes to get his wages from Sal we learn that

it is not the money aspect of the loss that bothers Sal it is

the fact that Sal lost something that was really a part of him.

All I have to say is that he should have thought of that

before he opened his mouth. In closing, the essay written

by Bell Hooks brings up a good point that I believe pretty

much sums up the movie. She says that the lunatic violence

that erupts in not just this community, but all segregated

black communities finally hurts black people more than

anyone else. Even though it seems like it is Sal who came

out on the bottom here it is really the black community and

relations among black people that are wrecked and

ravaged for a long time after..

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