For Steve Allan's Neglected Films
Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee (1989)
When Do the Right Thing premiered in 1989 it was considered to be one of the most controversial movies of all time. It certainly was one of the most political movies ever made, remaining so until today. It forced viewers to examine racism in a way never put on a screen before. It forced viewers to examine how violence can emanate from a fundamental misunderstanding between groups of people. People who don’t bother to try to understand each other. It was innovative in its look, in its use of music, in its parallel story lines. None of the characters is blameless; none is completely at fault.
Spike Lee’s place in the pantheon of directors has faded a bit since 1989, I think. He's spread himself a bit thin with a myriad of projects undertaken as one of the few black directors. Perhaps now, during Obama’s drive for the Democratic nomination, it’s a good time to remember Do the Right Thing. And to do it.