harryblarr’s review published on Letterboxd :
Under the sweltering heat, everything still goes on as usual. Love, job, responsibilities and the casual racism.
Sal owns an old pizzeria for about 20 years, well known throughout this dominantly black neighbourhood, whereas Sal is a proud Italian-American who hangs the picture of notable Italian-American on his pizzeria wall. Buggin’ has an issue with the wall of fame, the pizzeria is in black neighbourhood after all! Where’s the black folks? Where’s the picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and where’s the picture of Malcolm X on the wall?
Smiley has them, in various colour, selling them for his own livelihood. Everyone knows Smiley, he is mentally retarded and he stutters a lot, a very problematic individual in this neighbourhood that everyone chose to ignore. There’s also another problematic individual, Radio Raheem who carries his big boombox that constantly plays “Fight the Power” everywhere he goes and he is very unwilling to compromise. The Latinos understands that, but Sal doesn’t. These two individual has bandied themselves up with Buggin’ and swear to cause disruption to Sal’s pizzeria, that’s the backbone of this movie, and it almost only happens as the backdrop in the beginning.
For most of the first half of the movie, we learned a lot about Mookie and his job, there is also lots of quirky individuals, Da Mayor, Mother Sister, and the three old dude sitting on the folding chairs talking about the neighbourhood. Business as usual, fetching ice cream, getting belittle by lil’ sis and your own girlfriend and just how the neighbourhood adapting themselves to the heat. The slice of life sequence undeniably is slowly laced up with racial tension from the already very vocally racist Pito, Sal’s son, and some seemingly minor conflict overall in the pizzeria. We are also constantly reminded of their racial identity through the means of music, clothing and languages.
It’s a very torrid season and the pressure has to get vented one way or another. What resulted from this is racial violence exploded between Sal and the black community, it is uncomfortable yet feels inevitable. This very sequence has been quoted as controversial and can potentially incite a real life racial violence, very concerning indeed. On how they missed the entire point the movie is trying to make that is.
The final sequence is not an act that implores its audiences to pick a side nor to ask for forgiveness, it is blatantly ugly yet understandingly so. Spike Lee doesn’t deliver any message despite the title of the movie, he wants us to identify ourselves with these individuals before they exploded into a group of violent mobs through the earlier portion of the movie. Or even simpler, we just need to understand their frustrations or fear that has been pent up since long ago.
Do The Right Thing is very powerful and important the time during its releases and the importance should never be neglected ever since. There is simply no doing the best thing, one has to act after all instead of doing nothing. And that's the truth, Ruth.