“Do the Right Thing” Jason Smith Film Studies, April 2002 Right off the bat Spike Lee’s ideology is apparent in his film “Do the Right Thing”. In the opening credit sequence Rosie Perez is dancing to the Public Enemy song “Fight the Power” from the album Fear of a Black Planet. The main theme of the song and dance is frustration and anger at the status quo. “Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps…Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check…” is one example of how the songwriter (Chuck D) and Lee are frustrated by the treatment of ‘his heroes’. Another example of ideology just from the opening song is the lyrics, “To revolutionize make a change, nothing’s strange…People, people we are the same…” This verse suggests the equality of people, a popular left-wing ideology.
The rest of the film is also full of ideological ideas. One of the most prevalent themes of the movie is the pictures that were on the wall of the Pizza place. One of the men in the neighborhood tried to form a boycott of the pizza place because there were no Black people on the wall. He mentioned Malcolm X and Nelson Mandella as examples of black leaders, but the owner said that since it was his shop, only Italian-Americans would be put on the wall. This is another example of how Spike Lee was attempting to attack the status quo. Not until the very end of the movie when the handicapped guy puts a picture of Malcolm X on the burnt, damaged wall does the film resolve the black leaders problem.
Power is an important issue in interpersonal communication. Power can shape a relationship by influencing what you do, when you do it, with whom you do it, etc. Experts identify six bases of power. These bases include referent power, legitimate power, expert power, information or persuasion power, reward power, and coercive power. Referent power is a power usually held over others when the ...
Another great example of the ideology of this film is the neighborhood view of the Korean owned grocery store. At one point in the film the three black men are sitting across the street from the store talking. One of them refers to the store as a shame. He expresses his annoyance that the Koreans were able to run a successful business so quickly after arriving in the city. He says that if there were ever a black-owned store he would be the first in line to spend his dollar. In response one of the other men gets up, and states that he doesn’t care one bit who owns the store, he’s thirsty and going for something to drink. This, I believe is another attempt to show the similarity of people as opposed to the differences.
Another example of this is at the very end of the film. Right after they destroy the pizza place they turn around to face the Korean store across the street. They approach the owner and his wife as though prepared for violence but he deters them. Facing the angry mob the owner says that he is black too, and that they are the same. Now, the Korean store-owner was obviously not black, but the mob accepted his explanation anyway. This is because the film was trying to focus on the similarities of people as opposed to the differences. Despite being different races the owner and the mob were the same because they were both minorities, and in a sense, could identify with one another’s struggles.
Overall I would say that the ideology presented in “Do the Right Thing” is leftist in nature. It tended to focus on the future with disdain for the past, the similarities of people as opposed to the differences, and had a low opinion of the status quo; all leftist view points.