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