In an effort to educate myself about American film and its history I set a goal (on my Ultimate To DO list) to watch all of the films listed on AFI's 100 years, 100 movies list. My hope is that by watching these films with a critical eye and then researching their cast, crew and cultural impact I can "home school" myself through film school. Not a bad way to spend some time and save bunches money, huh?

Do the Right Thing is set on the streets of Brooklyn in a pre-9/11 New York. Spike Lee’s third film moves fast, hits hard and left me feeling a bit worn out.

The film is saturated with blinding color. The dialogue moves at warp speed and jumps back and forth between incredibly offensive and eye-openingly informative. For me, the social commentary delivered as it was proved difficult to digest. It is a vitally important, but difficult none the less. The hate, anger and frustration are clearly articulated in each and every scene. Living as a middle class, white, Middle American, who is often surrounded almost exclusively by other middle class, white, Middle Americans, I’ve had the luxury of escaping the type of in your face bigotry portrayed here.

I was horribly uncomfortable through MUCH of Do the Right Thing.  And one can't help but wonder if that was Lee's intention.  The film's on screen commentator, Mister Senor Love Daddy, screams, "Wake up! Wake up! Up you wake!"  Lee's work screams the same thing frame after frame.

The film culminates in a scene that seemingly predicts the Rodney King incident and ensuing L.A. riots of 1992. I couldn’t help but be heartbroken by the heroic character’s knee jerk act of rage. It clearly communicates his (and OUR) utter humanity. While the romantic in me would like to turn Mookie, played by writer and director Spike Lee, into a hero, I can't.  It would be lovely to believe his violent act was a diversionary tactic with some hidden or altruistic motive.  Lee himself has squashed this idea in the DVD commentary track of the 20th anniversary edition of the film.  Lee confirmed that when Mookie smashes Sal's window it is done out of anger and desperation.  It's a reaction NOT an action.  The message of the film that I took away is that not one of us is able to “Always Do the Right Thing,” despite “Da Mayor’s” (played brilliantly by Ossie Davis) simple, straight forward advice to do so.

Have you seen Do the Right Thing?  What did YOU think?