VOTD: Turning Up The Heat In Spike Lee's 'Do The Right Thing'

It's been over 30 years since director Spike Lee released the provocative, insightful, and unfortunately prescient racially charged drama Do the Right Thing. The film follows a pizza delivery man named Mookie (played by Lee himself) as he makes the rounds in a Brooklyn neighborhood on one of the hottest days of the year. Tensions rise with the heat, leading to an explosive confrontation between whites, blacks and the law.

Sadly, Do the Right Thing is still relevant to this day as protesters clash with the police in the wake of the unlawful deaths of too many black citizens around the United States. As we watch history unfold, a video essay takes a closer look at one specific element of Do the Right Thing and how it's used to represent the increasing tension between white and black people in Brooklyn.

Do the Right Thing Video Essay

In Do the Right Thing, the sweltering summer heat is a key element in Spike Lee's depiction of escalating tensions between black and white people. Characters are dripping sweat as they walk through the streets of Brooklyn. Some of them try to cool off with the blast of fire hydrants and hoses. But no matter how hard they try, they heat can't be beat. And it's all leading to the fire that burns Sal's pizzeria to the ground in the middle of a riot caused by the main character Mookie.

This is just one of the many ways Spike Lee builds to the tragic conclusion of Do the Right Thing, and that climax is exactly what we're seeing unfold right now around the United States. It's frustrating that what Spike Lee has to say in this movie is still so relevant today. But we're glad a director like him continues to make movies like this, giving a voice to those who continue to be marginalized and oppressed.

Just in case you need some guidance on the full message behind Do the Right Thing, here you go: