The consistent yelling in Do The Right Thing

The characters do a lot to anger each other throughout the film, but the way it is filmed makes the viewer more involved. The most obvious of the techniques used are the shots when people are yelling directly into the camera and at the viewer. Most of the time this happens, the person yelling doesn’t have a point to get across, they are just angry and shouting. To a viewer, getting yelled at for no reason about nothing made me uncomfortable, but we are forced to take it like the characters in the story.

In the picture, these happened back to back and are obviously talking about a person/group but the audience feels attacked in a way because it feels it is still directed at us or we feel involved someway. The first person view also gives us more emotion during the “20 ‘D’ batteries” scene when Radio Raheem is yelling at the camera at a dramatic angle to make us feel small.

On the flip side of being yelled at, there is an element of humor that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Once the viewer gets past the fact they are being yelled at about nothing, they start listening to what the person is saying and it is so ridiculous that it becomes humorous.  Obviously this humor is not for everyone. It took me a while to get past the phase of “stop yelling at me!” and get to just laughing at what they were yelling about. It really was not until the afterwards when watching the “20’D’ batteries” scene again that is struck me how hilarious the whole exchange was.

To me, it felt odd to have a film go from making me uncomfortable and angry to making me laugh after re-watching some scenes. For others, I would like to hear your initial reactions to all the shouting and yelling, and if those reactions changed throughout the film or afterwards. Do you think it changes the way you might feel as a viewer after watching the movie multiple times? Does the viewer getting yelled at build more sympathy for the characters in the story when they get yelled at, or does it desensitize us to it more to whats going on?

2 comments
  1. As the viewers, if we watched the movie multiple times, we would probably understand the character’s situation better instead of getting desensitized to what’s going on. When watching the film for the first time, I really couldn’t get past the yelling either. I was absorbed by the intensity of the medium close-ups and direct camera angles when characters are speaking to each other (similar to that of Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel). However, when we rewatched some of the scenes in class, I was able to really look at the clips holistically. For example, in the scene where the biker runs over Buggin Out’s jordans, I was initially distracted by the close-ups of the sweaty biker’s face and the odd low-angle shots of Buggin’ Out. But when we rewatched the scene in class, I was able better appreciate the humor from the crowd of onlookers and their role in escalating such a simple event.

  2. To answer one of your questions, I think that the way the yelling is presented to viewers causes us to eventually feel sympathy for the characters. However, it is only natural to get desensitized to the yelling after a while, so we no longer feel that sympathy that we had at the beginning. I think Spike Lee definitely presents us an interesting way to draw out emotions, but it becomes ineffective as the film progresses. In the end, I still think that we acknowledge what the characters are experiencing although we do not have the same initial emotions as we did in the beginning.

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