The Black Kino Fist: Black life as depicted in film history

Do the Right Thing (1989)

"Twenty-five years ago this month, Spike Lee released his third feature film and, inarguably, his greatest joint: Do the Right Thing, the story of  tensions between the local residents and an Italian-American family in the black neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, on the hottest day of the summer. The film was a trenchant exploration of the racial politics of New York City at the time, from incendiary trash-talking to police violence and an ensuing riot — even extending to the graffiti on the wall reading "TAWANA TOLD THE TRUTH." (Tawana Brawley became a political flashpoint in 1987 when, as a teenager, she was found in a trash bag smeared with feces and with racial slurs written on her body; she said six white men had raped her, although a special state grand jury the following year declared that she had fabricated the story.)
It was also a gripping human drama with an amazing ensemble cast, from veterans like Ossie Davis and the late Ruby Dee to first-timers like Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez (who not only stars in the movie, but kicks it off with an unforgettable dance routine to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power"). Also on board: Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Nunn, Robin Harris, and Lee himself as the pizza-delivering, trashcan-throwing Mookie. Do the Right Thing stands up today as a piece of art, as a milestone in African-American cinema, and as the movie that Barack and Michelle Obama saw on their first date. When Obama related that story to Lee, the director told the President, 'Good thing you didn't choose Driving Miss Daisy.'"
- Gavin Edwards
Status: Available for purchase

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