Spike Lee

The movie, Do the Right Thing, by Spike Lee is a hard hitting drama that deals with violence and racism in today's society. This film is set in a primarily black neighborhood in close to the present time. Right in the center of this neighborhood stands a pizza parlor that is owned and operated by one of the most important characters in the movie, Sal. In the beginning of the movie, Sal is shown arriving to work with his two sons Pino and Vito. This gives an appeal to Sal as a family man. Right from the start Sal is portrayed as a hard working, kind, and devoted individual. Just the fact that he owns his own business in these rough and tough times shows that he is a smart, efficient, and dedicated man. Later in the movie we learn that Sal did in fact build his pizzeria by himself from the ground up, brick by brick, board by board which was no little task indeed. The fact that Sal gets to share his creation and hard work with his sons makes it all the more special to him. After Sal has finished his pre-opening preparations Sal's Pizzeria is open for the day. Shortly after this, the main character of the movie, Mookie, comes strolling into the restaurant. Mookie works as the delivery man for Sal in this movie. Mookie literally delivers pizza, yes, but he also acts as a mediator between the two races. Sal relies on Mookie not only to get the pizzas delivered, but to also keep his fellow black folks happy with Sal so they will come and patronize his restaurant. I think that this shows a very interesting side of Sal. It for the most part pawns him off as a racist. On the one hand he can put on a happy face and greet all the black people as they shell their hard earned money out to him for his pizza, while on the other hand he turns into a bigot, hating most black people and talking behind their back while they are not around. Now I say most black people because Sal seems to have this father-son bond going on between him and Mookie where Sal is the white father and Mookie the black son who in the end finally rebels like all siblings do at some time in their life. Also Sal seems to have some kind of affection or love for Mookie's sister, Jade. When she enters the pizza parlor Sal insists, if not begs to make her some special slices of pizza. He then drops what he is doing to go sit and visit with her. This shows another awkward side of Sal. Is Sal considering some sort of interracial relationship here? I mean Jade is only approximately 20-25 years old where Sal has to be at least 50-55. Is Sal changing his attitude toward black people? Hardly. This might prompt one to ask themselves if Sal is a racist then why does he own a restaurant in the middle of a black neighborhood. Well as Sal explains to Pino early in the movie it is purely business. Sal knows that he is not able to compete with the large restaurant chains, so he must travel to someone else's turf to make a go of it. This is a point that is expressed in Bell Hooks Counter Hegemonic essay. She says that a scary, conservative idea voiced over and over again in the film is that everybody is safest in their "own" neighborhood and that it is best if we remain with people like ourselves. Now this doesn't seem to hold true for Sal and his pizzeria at first. Just look at the facts, he has been in this neighborhood for at least 15 to 20 years without any problems that we are made aware of. Obviously he must be making a profit or he would have shut down years ago. The way I see it is that the main problem with Sal these days is that he isn't in the business for the love of it anymore, he is in it for the money. After all of these years making pizza he has lost some of the fire that always got him going. I would be willing to bet that when Sal first opened up