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Do the Right Thing: Independent Cinema Essay

“Do the Right Thing” (1989) is a drama-comedy film crafted by writer-director producer star Spike Lee which delved into issues dealing with Brooklyn existence, racism and bigotry which exist in areas found in metropolitan New York. Tolerance is normally maintained but feelings are always threatening to spill out the key point of Lee’s film. Most of the actions take place in Sal’s Pizzeria, a 25 year-old Italian-American establishment in the African-American community (Do the Right Thing; 1989).

Sal has two sons, Pino and Vito who were all working with delivery person Mookie. In one of the scenes, Mookie was talking to one of his African-American friend in the pizzeria when the issue of “blackness” was again brought up. His friend asked Mookie who is his favorite basketball player, actor and musician. Mookie replied: “Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Prince” who apparently are all African-Americans by descent (Do the Right Thing; 1989). His friend had humorously assumed that Mookie might have preferred to be “black” in a sense.

Mookie responded that the three are not just “blacks”; they are the “higher blacks”. His friend, who is an African American, was shocked with how Mookie regarded his favorite personalities; they do not belong to the “ordinary blacks” to whom the issue of racism is often addressed; however, Mookie’s “categorization” of blacks can still be considered as being racist and still not a way to move out from the issue of racism (although Mookie had attempted to ease the degree of “insult” by bringing up the status of “some” blacks into a higher level).

The stimulating theory of “double consciousness” explores the possibility of how black political culture may change as it moved out of the early phases which attempted to escape from the notion of slavery towards the acquisition of meaningful citizenship in post-emancipated societies (Gilroy, Paul; 1993). The categorization of Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Prince as “higher blacks” is an evident response that the public (regardless of descent) is attempting to put a higher regard of what have been considered by history as “bearers of the lower status”.


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