The Endurance of “Do the Right Thing”
Spike Lee’s powerful, prescient vision of race in America still packs a punch.
Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing is considered one of the greatest films of all time. Perhaps more significantly, it is viewed as one of the most important films ever made. A major milestone of African American cinema, it has served as an inspiration for many, including, famously, Darren Aronofksy’s longtime cinematographer Matthew Libatique. Do the Right Thing is what made Libatique first pick up a camera, and the film is just as relevant today as in was when it was released back in 1989. Why is that?
Behind the film’s flashy style and Spike’s technical prowess, Do the Right Thing is a blistering, unapologetic social critique. Its relentless, in-your-face approach to its subject matter sparked many discussions in 1989. In fact, Spike recalls moviegoers staying in the theater long after the credits rolled in order to discuss the points of the film, and twenty-nine years later, the film is still widely discussed and analyzed. As much as Do the Right Thing is a product of its time, it was also very much ahead of its time. Spike even goes as far to say that he had a “crystal ball” while making the film, as it seems his script predicted many racial flashpoints to come. Racism was a problem back then, and it still is today. Do the Right Thing has ceased to age because it might be the most relevant film when it comes to racism in America. It seems that it will forever continue to entertain, inspire, and, most importantly, educate.