Do the Right Thing

(This is my analysis of the movie ‘Do the Right Thing.’)

The streets are dirty and littered. The buildings are shabby and decrepit. The youths fritter away their time by sitting on stairs and throwing abuse at each other and passers-by. An old, shabbily dressed man called Mayor loiters about in the sidewalk for the whole day, in an inebriated state of mind. Most of the people are just a close inch above sheer poverty, barely managing to fend for themselves.

And believe it or not, this is the United States of America.

‘Do the Right Thing’ is a movie about one such neighbourhood in the US — a neighbourhood fraught with problems.

But the the worst problem, among so many, is the large amount of hatred brewing in this community, the suppressed rage and resentment storing and storing, adding and adding, until it exceeds all limits and inexorably flares up like a pressure cooker.

This neighbourhood is an absolutely classic melting pot. It comprises of the widest varieties of people — African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Koreans, etc. And all the communities mutually hate each other. The blacks hate the Koreans for the latter’s success, the Italians hate the blacks, the Hispanics hate the Koreans, etc. There is one very nice scene in the movie where all the communities spew incomprehensible garbage at each other, venting out their ire.

Obviously, it’s not like every single person of a community hates every other person of the other community. 70% of this movie is not about hate and strife, but camaraderie and plain fun. But once one bigot gets angered and starts a riot, everybody else just joins in.

But why do people hate each other so much? Can’t they understand that fundamentally they are the same? All of them have suffered, faced multiple struggles, and experienced joy in their life. They are united by their misery and happiness. But still they hate each other because of the myths and lies ingrained in their minds. They identify themselves by their religion or community, rather than as humans. Thus they hate the people who identify themselves by some other imaginary entity. They speak rudely with people different from themselves, they even resort to violence when further provoked.

And it’s not just them, it’s also us.

So can we never escape from this?

No, we can. This movie offers a glimmer of hope of people living peacefully and harmoniously. Right at the beginning, the movie displayed a closely-knit, nice and friendly neigbourhood. All the people, regardless of colour or community, together open the fire emergency water vent and relish a thorough wash in the baking heat. In another scene Mookie — an African-American, eventually makes up with Sal — an Italian-American, after the violent riot the night before.

This movie shows that peace can be ensured if only the people attempt to reason with each other, instead of passionately swearing and shouting and kicking and punching. Radio Raheem, for example, was quite angry with Sal for shouting at him to turn off his radio instead of simply requesting at first. In a separate instance, Sal was so irked by Mookie’s friend for ordering him to paste pictures of African-Americans in his shop. Reason is a much more effective way of making the other side see things in your perspective than violence or similar means. That is because violence just provokes the other side to retaliate, and not understand or empathize.

So, do the right thing. Don’t hate, wipe out the differences which exist only in your mind. Reason, rather, with no anger or resentment.