Do The Right Thing is a highly controversial 1989 film, written and directed by Spike Lee, about a Brooklyn neighborhood gripped by racial tension. In this scene, a young black man and his friends demand that Sal, the Italian-American proprietor of Famous Pizza, add some black celebrities to his restaurant’s wall, which operates in a mostly black neighborhood. Things quickly escalate to the point of violence.
Why do you think this film is considered to be so controversial?
What was the viewing experience like as you watched this scene? What were your emotional reactions to the verbal and physical violence?
What do you think – did Mookie “do the right thing” when he threw the trash can through the window? Why or why not?
At the end of the film, viewers are prompted to ask themselves whether Mookie “did the right thing” by beginning the riot. Although critics have called Mookie’s decision both an act that saved Sal’s life (by redirecting the anger of the crowd away from Sal and toward his pizza store property) and an “irresponsible encouragement to enact violence,” Spike Lee has remarked that only white viewers seem to question Mookie’s decision. Lee has reportedly stated that viewers who do so are implicitly valuing white property over the life of a black person.