It was around 7:00 pm last Saturday when I was sitting on the couch with my mother.
“Mom, are you familiar with Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing?,” I asked as I turned to face her.
She looked at me in disbelief. “Duh, Mo! That movie is a classic. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen it.”
I hadn’t. But judging by the way she looked at me, I knew that I needed to watch it ASAP.
The film’s 30th anniversary presented a full circle moment for us. When Do the Right Thing was released in theaters in 1989, my mother was nineteen – the exact age that I am now as I prepare to view this classic for the first time ever.
Thirty. Years. Later.
Who would’ve known that this cultural phenomenon, created three decades ago still mirrors societal issues that we face today? Spike Lee is a genius. Period. The 1980’s was an era where the artistic expression of black people was at its peak. Music, dance, art, sports, fashion, you name it —Spike used his platform to create and fuse cultural content that reflected the political and social climate of the time.
Spike not only shed a light on black people living on the south side of Brooklyn in the ‘80s but also other people from varied backgrounds. The representation of the Puerto Ricans, Koreans, Italians and white people gave insight on how the community viewed and interacted with each other. Several of the issues that Spike illuminated are still relevant today. For instance, he highlighted real world issues such as gentrification, police brutality, racial stereotypes and black historical figures that are not often glorified for being a huge part of American culture. Most notably, he stressed the need to for us to create our own things and support the black community as well as businesses. The significance of the title, Do the Right Thing simply emphasizes the importance of doing what’s just in a society where so much is done wrong or simply ignored.
In honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Spike Lee himself hosted an epic block party in Brooklyn on the exact block where the movie was filmed. With open invite, there was a great turn out! The party took place on Stuyvesant Ave. between Lexington and Quincy, which has been re-named Do the Right Thing Way.
2019 has been a year of wins for Spike, kicking off the year nabbing an Oscar for BlacKkKlansman, producing See You Yesterday in May for Netflix and now being honored for his work with Do the Right Thing. With all of these accolades for Spike I’m sure I am not the only one who is curious to know, what’s next?