The film Do the Right Thing was a story of the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, New York. A mostly African-American neighborhood, everything seemed to be peaceful at the beginning of the hottest day of the year. The Italian-Americans that owned Sal’s Famous Pizzeria opened the restaurant, Mookie, the African-American delivery boy for Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, reported for work, and the rest of the neighborhood went about their daily business. Toward the middle of the day, Buggin Out, one of Mookie’s friends, went into the pizzeria and remarked that there were no pictures of African-Americans on Sal’s “Wall of Fame.
” Sal replied that it was his restaurant, and if he wanted to put up only pictures of Italian-Americans, then he could do so. This sent Buggin Out into a rage, exclaiming that the African-Americans spent too much money at the pizzeria not to have one of their own on the wall. Mookie escorted Buggin Out out of the pizzeria and told him not to come back for a week. When Buggin Out left, he tried to get a boycott of the pizzeria organized. No one wanted to be a part of it, because they all loved Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. Meanwhile, everyone went about their business.
By the time night fell, and the pizzeria was about to close for the night, Buggin Out got Radio Raheem to join in the boycott. It was only the two of them when they stormed Sal’s Famous Pizzeria with blaring music. A shouting match ensued before Sal had finally had enough and he smashed the boom box with his baseball bat. This sent Radio Raheem into a rage, and he started to strangle Sal. The fighting ended up outside, where most of the neighborhood got involved. When the police showed up, Mookie’s friend was arrested, and, as the police were trying to subdue Radio Raheem, the police accidentally strangled him to death.
The police put Radio Raheem’s body in the back of the police car and left. This act of violence made the neighborhood react violently toward Sal, who had nothing to do with how the police treated Radio Raheem. Mookie was the first to throw a trash can through a window of the pizzeria. After that, people from the neighborhood stormed the restaurant, stealing the money, breaking everything inside before finally setting the pizzeria ablaze. Sal’s Famous Pizzeria was gone. The next day, Mookie went to the burned pizzeria to get his paycheck.
After a few angry words from Sal about the loss of the restaurant he built with his hands, Sal paid Mookie the money he owed him, even though Mookie was the one to start the riot, and told him to leave. Mookie did leave, and the neighborhood reverted to how it was the morning before. The heat outside was a metaphor for the tensions that arose in the neighborhood. As the weather got hotter, the tension mounted. As people became agitated because of the heat, they also became agitated because of the underlying racial conflicts that seemed to infiltrate the neighborhood.
When the heat rose to its hottest point, the tension boiled over, resulting in the death of Radio Raheem and the riot at Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. Several people “do the right thing” throughout the film. For example, Da Mayor does the right thing when he pushed the little boy out of the way of a speeding car, saving his life. Mookie does the right thing when he escorts Buggin Out out of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria when he started to get belligerent. Sal does the right thing when, even though Mookie started the riot, he pays Mookie what he owes him for his work the previous night.
However, ultimately, no one does the right thing; Sal broke the boom box, which resulted in him being attacked and Mookie threw the trash can through a window of the pizzeria, which resulted in a riot. In view of the bigger picture, Sal’s pizzeria still burned down, Mookie is still out of a job, and the entire neighborhood is a little worse for wear. Just because a couple of people did the right thing throughout the day does not mean that everything should be forgiven. The tension, like the heat, infected everyone like a sickness.
People were already belligerent from the heat, and the accumulation of the day’s events added fuel to the fire. The riot turned into a race war. In the end, no one won. There was still a loss felt, for both Radio Raheem, who died at the hands of the police, and for a long-time member of the neighborhood, Sal’s pizzeria. The quote: “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.
It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys a community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. ” summed up why no one did the right thing. Violence ensued, and, as spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. , violence is both immoral and impractical.
King argues that it is immoral because it advocated hatred rather than love and it humiliates rather than gains understanding. King also argues that violence is impractical because it only destroys. Everyone involved in the riot reacted violently in one way or another. The riot was complete insanity at its height. No one gained any understanding of how another felt, no one sought not to destroy. Everyone involved was at fault for what happened to Radio Raheem, and for what happened to Sal’s pizzeria. As in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, race is still a controversial topic today.
The African-Americans believe that not much has changed since the 1950’s and 1960’s, while the Caucasians believe the United States has made unbelievable progress. Of course, there are some African-Americans who believe that progress has indeed been made, while some Caucasians believe that not enough progress has been made. The undeniable truth is that yes, the United States has made some progress where race is concerned, however, there is still progress to be made. Both sides of the coin are relevant at this point in time.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, as shown in the film, African-Americans were discriminated against, especially by the police. The police were still treating African-Americans unfairly. Today, much has been done to protect everyone’s, including African-Americans, civil rights. Police brutality laws have been put in place and it is rare now that police would harass anyone who had no reason to be under suspicion. Today, most people, including police, would look at someone who is African-American like they would look at any other human being.
It has taken a while, but now, finally, most people are treating African-Americans like they should be treated, like human beings. The film itself takes a strong stance on race and violence. As seen throughout the film, racial tensions seemed to overwhelm the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy. When these tensions resulted in the riot, the situation became a white versus black war. The point of the film was to reveal racial tensions and violence for what they are, impractical and immoral. The end of the film left the viewer with the question, “What happens now?
” This is a thoughtful and open-ended question that deserves to be pondered. No one in the film would want to revert to the breaking point they were at. Everyone must then move on and try to make better choices in the future. Everyone must try to understand one another, and not hate blindly. Violence does not solve anything, as was seen in the film. There was no victory, everyone saw the error of their own ways and were left feeling empty. The riot was a difficult lesson to learn, however, perhaps the events that unfolded had to happen the way they did in order to restore peace and civility.