Do the Right Thing Film Through the Lens of Race Theory Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2014 Words
Date:  2022-05-09


Critical Race Theory (CRT) got established from the legal learning perspective; it avails a critical appraisal concerning racism and race from a legal point of view. CRT extends to some disciplines since its inception. The theory relates to the examination of the processes replicating racism and injustice. CRT's key principles are that racism is pervasive and regular. Racism's ordinariness shows that those with privilege or power are racially prejudiced and do not consider their actions or views as racist but typical, normal and part of the current situation (Delgado et al., 12). Scholars of the (Critical Race Theory) CRT debate that race will constantly matter and that racism is a characteristic that is essential to life in America. CRT indicates that race and racism are permanent in the social order (Delgado et al.,16). CRT focuses on the economic, social and economic bias among groups conceding that race interconnects with various aspects such as class, gender and the orientation of sex.

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This paper analyzes Do the Right Thing film by the Critical Race Model to disclose the common themes of racism as well as address racism's tragic impact on African American lives. Do the Right Thing, a movie produced and directed by Lee puts into light a day of the lives of people that are diverse racially, work and live in a neighborhood that is a low class in Brooklyn. The film focuses on how race, social class and moral judgments that the movie characters make directly affect how the people relate to each other.

Do the Right Thing Film through the Lens of Race Theory

Scholars of the (Critical Race Theory) CRT debate that race will continuously matter and that racism is a characteristic that is essential to life in America. CRT indicates that race and racism are permanent in the social order. CRT focuses on the economic, social and economic bias among groups conceding that race interconnects with various aspects such as class, gender and the orientation of sex. This element gets depicted in the Do the Right Thing film where Lee indicates the danger of reacting to other people by race, he ironically represents characters stereotypically through their aesthetics and language and uses iconography to indulge in stereotypes to represent the racial groups present in the film. Lee achieves this by, for instance, portraying Raheem in a medallion necklace that is African while carrying loud rap playing boom box, he has Italian Americans dressed in tank top shirts and crosses (Sullivan et al., 141). Tertiary characters like a Puerto Rican group of friends gets shown drinking beer and speaking Spanish as they listen to salsa in their apartment (Sullivan et al., 145). Lee indicates that his characters are aware that their ethnicities that differ can result in a struggle for power by making them use ethnic slurs in both a serious and comic fashion to insult each other openly. The battle for power also gets portrayed when Buggin the black character role-playing an activist out tells Mookie, a black employee to a white man to 'stay black' meaning that he should not work hard to excel or be a Tom.

Throughout the film, the characters portray the concepts found in Marxism as well as their differences in race in their interactions socially. Marxism got established as a theory that was revolutionary, and that tried to expose and explain the power relations in societies that were capitalist (Sullivan et al., 151). It also tells that Karl Max had a significant concern with the outward division between the working class and the ruling. In the movie Buggin'Out verbally attacks a white man owning a property for running over his fresh Air Jordans and then questions his presence in his neighborhood. Lee briefly indicates how a character in a community that is poor, psychologically has an urge to compete with others economically. It is an illustration of the culture trade, which is displayed by Buggin'Out for he is in possession of the latest shoes and does not want it to ring in his mind that he was symbolically and run over by a much wealthier man than him (Sullivan et al., 154).

The film's setting is a predominantly black community and the families seen to run businesses are Korean American or Italian American. Some black characters, therefore, hate them because they are in possession of the companies and some like them for the same cause, however, the only business that is burnt down and vandalized was a white man's. The scenario indicates that even though a conflict exists between African Americans and Korean Americans, there exists much more conflict between the blacks and whites (Sullivan et al., 159). Even though the blacks love Sal's Pizzeria, they come to know Sal's perception of a black person when he feels defenseless to Buggin'Out and does not allow him to place a black man's picture on the wall of the pizzeria.

Scene Analysis

This film's scene analysis focusses on two clips from the film using the race perspective. The first excerpt indicates Hispanic and black characters are conflicting over physical possessions but respecting each other eventually. The second clip suggests Mookie realizes that with his effort to moderate relations that are peaceful between black and white characters, he has an urge to fight for what he feels is unjust even though it comes with him losing his employment. The first scene starts with a sound of conga drums record playing in the background; the camera diminishes to the next section that shows Puerto Rican males that perceive an image that is ethnic Puerto Rican as Blades Reuben's salsa music gets loudly heard. Lee's opening with an excellent iconography use enforces the stereotyping aspect by the men's choice of appearance, language as well as clothes (Sullivan et al., 169). The man in the middle uses the Spanish language as he refers to Puerto Rico as a beautiful land, his friend does not conquer with him and refers to Puerto to a nightmare. The scene succeeds in portraying the difference of the black neighborhood from the rest. The camera leaves the two friends arguing as it reveals the source of the salsa music to be an old boom box which slowly starts to mix with rap music that is loud, giving a hint that Raheem Radio must be in the vicinity.

The camera moves to the right and focuses a stereo that looks newer and is held by African American large hands in bulging gold jewelry, indicating Lee's use of fetishization as he focuses on half of the body excluding the face (Valdez Walker, 24). With the camera pausing the words PRO stereo and Raheem's tune becomes more pronounced indicating economic excess signs. Status and economic power get shown by the stereo's excessive size and noise as well as the jewelry. Iconography is also portrayed by Raheem's African medallion on his neck alongside his serious face, as the focus is on Raheem, the Puerto Ricans grumble that their salsa music gets masked, the camera switches in their direction, and the salsa music starts to be perceived again (Valdez Walker, 28).

The man occupying the center position becomes aware that Raheem is challenging them to be the most powerful by blaring loud music, something that black youths associate with. The power challenge indicates both economic and social symbolism as it is mainly showing the stereo that is playing more booming music and the dominating culture as well. When the man from Puerto Rica heads to his boom box that has a sticker of the Puerto Rican flag (Valdez Walker, 35). It is clear that his stereo is older and less loud. The salsa music is once again turned down by Raheem when he decides to turn up multiple knobs making it known to the Puerto Rican that he had lost the power struggle challenge, responds to Raheem by the telling him 'you got it, brother' Raheem is seen amused while thrusting his fist in the air. The short scene achieves its goal to entertain the viewer but also portrays the whole movie in the manner in which the various races want to feel respected, influential and acknowledged by other races present in the film ((Valdez Walker, 41). Raheem passes the message that he has power, a reason why he faces a lot of conflicts in the movie.

The second scene chosen for analysis starts shortly after the killing of Raheem by the police as a response to a street bout between Sal and Raheem. The scene symbolizes how outrage can spring from disbelief as the film's characters shout the names of people who have fallen victims as a result of violence by the police. The viewer realizes that the incidence was not an accident and that it is a recurrent occurrence in the given community. The poor neighborhood's residents are fully aware that it has become a norm for them to face police victimization and brutality. The aged man shouting that Raheem should not have been killed indicates that despite being enormous and threatening, he was a young man still.

When the camera rotates to Mookie showing his surprised face, it denotes that he has seen something erroneous with being close to the three white men as his friends and neighbors watch ((Valdez Walker, 51). Sal is at the center as his sons follow behind him and Mookie is next to him, his stature indicates that he is reconsidering his place next to him for he is a few inches away from him. He takes a glance at Sal, then another one at the neighborhood and begins to stride away from the white men. The act is momentous since Mookie feels he has been loyal to Sal as his employee, but a boundary still exists. Sal's facial expression alters to become tenser as Mookie leaves because it dawns on him that at least he literary had someone from the neighborhood on his side who had an ethical resemblance with the rest of the residents that were furious with him and his sons at that moment.

Lee's work resonates with the CRT tenet which accentuates that reinforcement of the status quo gets done by the working-class people and the white people's convergence, who consensually work in unison to uphold the status quo. Convergence of interest holds that white people are only ready to change the differential of power when there is an explicit benefit to their interest. The whites' power comes from capital and material resource control (Delgado et al.,24). This gets revealed in the scene where Lee depicts Sal, and his sons as a wealth symbol and also a representation of injustice stanched against residents of the poor neighborhood by a white man who is economically more powerful compared to them. The resident's rage towards Sal is ironic because Raheem had overpowered Sal and was choking him before the arrival of the police. Mookie shows rage and outrage by smashing Sal's pizzeria for being made to feel powerless by the police (Valdez Walker, 61). The residents loot the store indicating that they are fed up of being undermined by the police and by the wealthier in their society. Some go for the money in the store showing their desperation to claim the power they felt they never had. Sal is forced to watch his pizzeria get destroyed from across the street; the scene also indicates that his superiority over the residents is no more (Valdez Walker, 73).


Does the Right Thing resonate emotionally with the viewers by pointing out the effect of not appropriately addressing disparities that are social and racial? The variations can result in violence by those who feel undermined. The film indicates the ordinariness of racial issues as per the Race Theory. However, the characters do not confront them until the very end of the film. The boom box scenes prove to focus on power than the music quality. The film also indicates that those that feel undermined riot after an extended period of feeling that a group created to protect them does not match what interests them most.


Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical race theory: An introduct...

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