Due to the corrosive nature of Spike Lee's most controversial film, to discuss the film would be to humor the happenings with analytical discussion. In other words, if you haven't seen or plan to see Do the Right Thing I don't recommend reading any further as I will reveal many plot points. Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee's most critically acclaimed film to date and for good reason. Concocting a heatwave aesthetic, the burning asphalt leaps off camera and scalds your senses. This was Spike Lee's aim with the bright orange backdrops and sweat-covered hood rats marching up and down the block - it's quite obvious that he succeeded. The heat mirrors two purposes: to allow the boiling point of racial tension a visual metaphor and to accentuate the "hottest day" of the summer in which the film is set in. Rewind back to 1989 and you'll see the release of Do the Right Thing, a racially conscious masterpiece of urban life that terrified critics as fears and rumors of the films release inciting real riots spread. To fully understand Do the Right Thing requires two key elements: being black and acquainting yourself with the many characters that Lee immortalized. As I am not African-American (but can speak jive), I must rely heavily on the second aspect in order to absorb any intended effect that Spike Lee had set out to burn into the brains of naive white liberals.
Radio Raheem is the whistle-blower to the climax. Herded into the climactic boycott of Sal's Pizzeria like cattle, Radio Raheem's stubbornness and general inconsiderate behavior lent to the greatest tragedy in Do the Right Thing - the death of the ghetto-blaster - the consequential relic of the film. Had Radio Raheem known that this confrontation led to his future death, would he have changed anything? Probably not. His character seemed to give priority to "keeping it real" over his own life. I find myself hardly empathizing over Radio Raheem's death, a scene that which later greatly inspired Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine - as he never applied himself to anything other than "hood". The scene in which Radio Raheem enlightens Mookie on left hand, right hand is one of the more fascinating scenes to be found and proves that had Radio Raheem straightened out and garnered even a sliver of responsibility, he could have done something, anything other than loitering and listening to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" on repeat. In the end, Mookie reveals himself to actually be the Antichrist of urbanites when he incites a riot by throwing a garbage can through the pizzeria window. As I mentioned before, Sal blesses Mookie with a job. Something that seems so irrelevant and passé to Mookie is actually a necessary element of escaping the cycle that all black youth are born into. As Spike Lee records via stream-of-consciousness in his companion volume to the film, "I gots to get paid. Mookie repeats this often. When he delivers pizzas, he refuses to leave until he gets a tip. You can believe that." Lee then calls him an "instigator, a rabble-rouser" and then expects us to back up the motivations that drive Mookie to destroy a positive influence to a rotting community. Spike Lee also scowls in the directors commentary that he "has only ever been asked by white viewers whether Mookie did the right thing; black viewers do not ask the question". He is also accredited to saying that those who question Mookie's irrational actions "are implicitly valuing white property over the life of a black man." This brings me to the conclusion that Spike Lee's ignorance is a cause for concern. Had black youth caught wind of the sweltering hysteria of Do the Right Thing, why, we'd have hordes of blind militants storming the streets "doing the right thing" and amassing millions in property damage stemming from persuasive hatred.