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Arellano, L. (2008). Do the Right Thing Written and directed by Spike Lee Universal Pictures, 1989, 120 min.. Fort Da, 14(2):152-157.

(2008). Fort Da, 14(2):152-157

Do the Right Thing Written and directed by Spike Lee Universal Pictures, 1989, 120 min.

Reviewed by
Leticia Arellano, M.A.

Radio Raheem is Dead — Adaptation to the Traumatic Murder of Blackness in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is a startling journey into the broad and interpersonal aspects of American race relations. His film's political and cultural commentary holds undeniable significance for film viewers. Do the Right Thing not only functions as a broad social commentary on racism in American society but also as an account of the impact everyday racism and violence has on the interpersonal sphere of Black Americans.

The relationships explored throughout Do the Right Thing communicate observations about race and society, while also shedding light on attachments and styles of adaptation of individuals and groups. Through the character of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn), Lee explores particular character adaptations of the individual to racism, the traumatic disruption Radio Raheem's murder by police officers has on his community, and the power this trauma holds for the community that consciously and unconsciously view Radio Raheem as a symbol of intransigent blackness.

Do the Right Thing explores with humor, starkness, and an overriding sense of tragedy the impact of racial and cultural tensions on the residents and business owners in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on one of the hottest days of the year. In the film, the relationship between Mookie (Spike Lee), a young, black pizza delivery man, and his boss Sal (Danny Aiello), the Italian-American pizzeria owner, serves as a conduit for the tensions that build over Sal's refusal to hang pictures of prominent Black Americans on his restaurant's “Wall of Fame.” This refusal creates an alliance among three of the neighborhood's members — Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), Radio Raheem, and Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) — who decide to boycott Sal's Pizzeria.

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