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Reassessing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing


Brash, vibrant, provocative and insightful – there are many reasons to revisit Spike Lee’s 1989 street ballet, Do the Right Thing.  But perhaps the most important -at least for now- is the way in which that film speaks to much deeper issues in modern American society.  After a tumultuous period in which events from Florida to Ferguson have placed institutionalised racism back onto the public radar, the subtext of Lee’s film stands renewed.  At times the film is dated by its contemporary fashion; but little else about Do the Right Thing feels out of place in 2016.  Twenty five years after its original release it feels as relevant and insightful as it ever has.


‘Black Films Matter: Reassessing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in Post-Ferguson America’ is my critical reappraisal of the film and its renewed place in our popular culture.  It is an open access (read it for free) article published in U.S. Studies Online.  You can read the article now by CLICKING HERE.  It is also my first evolving digital piece.  It now includes a digital appendix which includes a photo essay, music, and additional resources – it is, to my knowledge, the first history article to include an audio commentary.


Read ‘Black Films Matter: Reassessing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in Post-Ferguson America’ in U.S. Studies Online – Click Here

View the ‘Black Films Matter’ Digital Appendix Below:

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackFilmsMatter #SpikeLee #History #CriticalReview #AmericanHistory #DarrenReid #DarrenRReid #Urban #Hiphop #PublicEnemy #FightthePower #Race #UnderstandingRacism #Twitterstorians #DigitalHumanities #DigitalAppendix #BAAS #USStudiesOnline #AmericanStudies

2 responses to “Reassessing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing”

  1. Hanlin Deng says:

    People can clearly feel the racial conflicts, violence,power by watching the movie Do The Right Thing from the director.Props, conversations and atmosphere are welly used.The main actor is more like a witness in the film.He kept his neutral attitude which broke all-or-none thinking in majority of Hollywood films.The whole movie discussed what is the right thing and in the end of the film the director Spike Lee leave this question to let the audience to consider.Spike Lee leave a lot of details in the movie, like the white T-shirt worn on the main actor and the wall of fame to express the complimentary to Malcolm X. Sometimes we should avoid the violence however in some situations dealing things in a peaceful way is unattainable thus the violence can be regarded as self-defence. Violence,rical discrimination and desire of power will never disappear, how can we deal with it? What is the right thing can be left to the later generation to discuss.

  2. Diana Huang says:

    I totally agree that the street arts reflect the conflict. It is sort of giving more information about the theme. One more thing that I was awarded is the rings Radio Raheem is wearing: LOVE &I HATE. He says, love and heat is just like his two hands, they fight with each other. Sometimes LOVE will win, and sometimes HATE will peivil. This also contains the theme, which I guess is that hate and love always against each other, but none of them will always be right. Like the name of this film, do the right thing. What is right? Love or heat? Make your own choices.

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