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By Brad Laidman | January 24, 2002

It bothers me when people get ticked off at Spike Lee’s public persona, because I think that he does himself and his work a disservice by falling into the same trap that he so presciently warned the world of in what I think to be the best made and most important movie of the last twenty years “Do The Right Thing”. “Do The Right Thing” is an amazingly mature political statement that manages to be scathingly hilarious right up until the very moment that it hits you square in the stomach so hard that you can barely breath.
When Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” lost the Palme D’or award in 1989 to Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex Lies and Videotape,” there were many issues that plagued the film which continue to weigh against it for many white Americans. Why were there no sympathetic characters? Why does Spike Lee’s character Mookie incite a riot by yelling “hate” and throwing a garbage can through his employer Sal’s window bringing forth the ugly destruction of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, Wall of Fame and all? Since Mookie is constantly being told to “do the right thing”, and he is portrayed by the writer and director, is the movie a call for violence? Don’t the dueling quotes from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X that end the movie cloud the issue even more? What does he mean by “do the right thing”, when he seems to be hedging his bets throughout the whole movie? The truth however is that unlike Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” Spike Lee chose to use his skills to illuminate an issue rather than to pummel his audience with an opinion. The tragedy is that Spike Lee does have a strong opinion and thus moviegoers were unable to separate themselves from the violent blaze of the ending and lost the true meaning entirely, which was plain and simply uttered as early as the first two words of dialogue, “Wake up!” Not surprisingly these were also the final words of Lee’s previous effort “School Daze.”
Get the whole story in part two of WAKE UP! DO THE RIGHT THING RECONSIDERED>>>

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