The film depicts the lives of those who live on a city block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York where Sal’s Famous Pizzeria is located. Racial and ethnic hatred is shown through the characters who frequent the Italian restaurant. Sal’s son, Pino, wants to move the Pizzeria into their own neighborhood away from his father’s black clientele, whom he despises. In Mark Reid’s article, “Black Comedy on the Verge of a Breakdown”, he states that Pino celebrates an ethnic-racial apartheid system in which ethnic and racial groups remain in their proper neighborhoods” (101). In response to his son’s backward request, Sal says, “So what if this is a Black neighborhood, so what if we’re a minority. I’ve never had no trouble with … [these] people. Don’t want none either, so don’t start none. This is America”. It is ironic because Pino’s favorite people are black, but he does not see them that way. It is as if he is contradicting himself. Pino’s brother, Vito, does not agree with his sibling’s racist ways, but Pino forces him into accepting racism. Reid goes on to say that this behavior is characteristic of those who join violent mobs because they do not support the violence, yet they give in to it (101-102). It resembles peer-pressure except on a larger scale.
The climax of the movie is when Buggin’ Out and R...
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... a successful, middle-class guy… makes a movie in which he essentially tells … the … black lower-class ‘Well, you’re not going to get justice. They are out there to get you. It’s you versus them. And this is what they do’” (105). This movie is a direct example of how media influences members of society. This relates to that saying about the butterfly that flutters it's wings and causes a hurricane on the other side of the world.
In a sense, this movie is a realistical look into the racial animosities of the time period.
Reid, Mark A. “Black Comedy on the Verge of a Breakdown.” Redefining Black Film. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.
Watkins, Craig. “Producing Ghetto Pictures.” Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998. 169-195.
Do The Right Thing, Dir. Spike Lee, 1989.
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