The Ending of Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing was very inconclusive, which I believe is very reminiscent of solving the racial crisis of today. Many would like to believe that racism no longer exists or is a problem, yet there are scenes from Do the Right Thing  that unfortunately do not look that different from today’s reality. Police brutality against African Americans is active and many people have turned to violence to fight back.

The two quotes at the end of the film suggested two very different approaches to violence and reflected the ideas of some of the characters in the film. Martin Luther King is quoted in support of peace and Malcom X is quoted suggesting that violence can be self-defense and an intelligent answer at times. After the quotes are presented, there is an image of Martin Luther King and Malcom X together, the same one Smiley was trying to sell on the streets.

The contradictory quotes with the visual of the two men pictured together is confusing for a reason. Lee does this to reflect the reality of racial tensions. There is no clear solution. One can not stand by and do nothing but fighting back with violence is also not the answer. These are the two major ideologies presented in the film and ones that it appears the characters try to follow to some degree. The mayor advocates peace and tries to break up violence when it occurs, however it doesn’t change anything. When characters use violence, Radio Raheem ends up dead. The mayor tells Mookie to “do the right thing”, but it seems that no one really knows what the right thing is. Different people have different ideas of what is “right”, therefore no extreme end of the spectrum will ever be the right thing. Each ideology has its own faults. Violence, chaos, and racism seem to prevail regardless of which one is practiced.

This movie really delivered for me on a moral and emotional level, perhaps more so than any film we have watched so far in this class. Throughout the film, I found myself disgusted with racist remarks and slights made by certain characters, but also incredibly disappointed by the turn to violence that many other characters took. Honestly, I never saw a clear solution and that’s such a huge problem that we face today. What can we do? When people are scared of the people that are supposed to protect us and are turning against each other, there is no easy answer. However, we must think about this issue thoughtfully, and this is one of the many important things that Do the Right Thing challenges us to do. 

1 comment
  1. I mean, how eerie was it to watch this film and realize how some of the most recent events in race relations today echoes the content of this film. The debate between peaceful protest and violent retribution has been on ongoing debate for decades with no clear ending in sight. Attempts to do the right thing only seem to cause more chaos. We take 1 step forward and several steps back when it comes to improving race relations in our country. I think what this movie accomplishes very well is depicting the mistakes we make and how it all snowballs into chaos and death. This is extremely important because it’s easier to begin thinking of solutions when the clear sequence of our mistakes are laid out right in front of us to see. There is no single right thing to do I think but rather there are multiple wrong things that we do everyday minority or not in the ways we co-exist in our communities. Perhaps the first step is to rectify these mistakes in an effort to shed our primitive ways and improve our communities.

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