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Do The Right Thing
The movie, Do the Right Thing, by Spike Lee is a hard
hitting drama that deals with violence and racism in today's
society. This film is set in a primarily black neighborhood in
close to the present time. Right in the center of this
neighborhood stands a pizza parlor that is owned and
operated by one of the most important characters in the
movie, Sal. In the beginning of the movie, Sal is shown
arriving to work with his two sons Pino and Vito. This gives
an appeal to Sal as a family man. Right from the start Sal is
portrayed as a hard working, kind, and devoted individual.
Just the fact that he owns his own business in these rough
and tough times shows that he is a smart, efficient, and
dedicated man. Later in the movie we learn that Sal did in
fact build his pizzeria by himself from the ground up, brick
by brick, board by board which was no little task indeed.
The fact that Sal gets to share his creation and hard work
with his sons makes it all the more special to him. After Sal
has finished his pre-opening preparations Sal's Pizzeria is
open for the day. Shortly after this, the main character of
the movie, Mookie, comes strolling into the restaurant.
Mookie works as the delivery man for Sal in this movie.
Mookie literally delivers pizza, yes, but he also acts as a
mediator between the two races. Sal relies on Mookie not
only to get the pizzas delivered, but to also keep his fellow
black folks happy with Sal so they will come and patronize
his restaurant. I think that this shows a very interesting side
of Sal. It for the most part pawns him off as a racist. On the
one hand he can put on a happy face and greet all the black
people as they shell their hard earned money out to him for
his pizza, while on the other hand he turns into a bigot,
hating most black people and talking behind their back
while they are not around. Now I say most black people
because Sal seems to have this father-son bond going on
between him and Mookie where Sal is the white father and
Mookie the black son who in the end finally rebels like all
siblings do at some time in their life. Also Sal seems to have
some kind of affection or love for Mookie's sister, Jade.
When she enters the pizza parlor Sal insists, if not begs to
make her some special slices of pizza. He then drops what
he is doing to go sit and visit with her. This shows another
awkward side of Sal. Is Sal considering some sort of
interracial relationship here? I mean Jade is only
approximately 20-25 years old where Sal has to be at least
50-55. Is Sal changing his attitude toward black people?
Hardly. This might prompt one to ask themselves if Sal is a
racist then why does he own a restaurant in the middle of a
black neighborhood. Well as Sal explains to Pino early in
the movie it is purely business. Sal knows that he is not able
to compete with the large restaurant chains, so he must
travel to someone else's turf to make a go of it. This is a
point that is expressed in Bell Hooks Counter Hegemonic
essay. She says that a scary, conservative idea voiced over
and over again in the film is that everybody is safest in their
"own" neighborhood and that it is best if we remain with
people like ourselves. Now this doesn't seem to hold true
for Sal and his pizzeria at first. Just look at the facts, he has
been in this neighborhood for at least 15 to 20 years
without any problems that we are made aware of.
Obviously he must be making a profit or he would have
shut down years ago. The way I see it is that the main
problem with Sal these days is that he isn't in the business
for the love of it anymore, he is in it for the money. After all
of these years making pizza he has lost some of the fire that
always got him going. I would be willing to bet that when
Sal first opened up his pizza joint he was superficially
friendly to all the people, including the black people, that
came into his establishment. Through the years though Sal
has built up some sort of grudge or hatred against a variety
of black people that he has been holding
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Do the Right Thing, Shorea robusta, Sal, Cape Verde, English-language films, RadioRaheem
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