Mitchell-"Seeing Do the Right Thing"


Please post your discussion questions on Mitchell's essay here. Mitchell's essay is the third chapter in a debate between himself and another scholar named Christensen on Spike Lee's film, *Do the Right Thing.* In this piece, Mitchell responds to a 1991 article by Christensen, which is responding to an original essay by Mitchell. I have uploaded the other two articles to the Moodle site for your reference. Feel free to respond to any of the three pieces in your discussion questions, but be sure to come to class prepared to discuss the reading on the syllabus.


In this essay, Spike Lee is criticized as capitalist, so his film “Do the Right Things” is contaminated by his behavior and attitude. The author states that films which include something political meaning should be directed by film makers who can have responsibilities for themes. I can understand what the point is, but it is too strict for freedom of speech. How do you think about this?

Spike Lee, at one point in time was a struggling independent film maker, but is now among Hollywood elite. Do you think this has anything to do with his bold courage touching on "dangerous" topics in his film? Now that he has the support to back him up, he can let his voice be heard?

Is Christensen wrong to fantasize about a pure distinction between "doing the right thing" and "doing what you gotta do" ? Mitchell says that you do not always know what the right thing to do is and sometimes, you have to do what you can wether it be the right thing or not. Is it wrong to think that we can see the right thing, or do we let what we know and what we want get in the way of our choices?

It seems to me that Christensen sees doing the right thing as something that is black and white. I tend to agree with Mitchell who say that "you do not always know what the right thing to do is....." As far as Spike Lee throwing himself at the corporate world to gain monetary momentum, how can one judge until they are standing in one's own shoes. And who is in charge of telling someone else that they don't know what is right vs wrong. We are individuals and gain our knowledge, ideals, and morals through what we've experienced and how we've grown up.

Spike Lee movies often tackle pressing issues that are faced by the average American citizen everyday. I believe he uses his platform well in making exciting films while presenting issues to ponder and discuss after. Do you believe asking the viewer to think about controversial topics actually has an effect while they are munching on popcorn and trying to entertain themselves for a couple of hours?

The articles by Mitchell, and the works by Spike Lee bring to surface an often overlooked question of omission. In production of, either news reporting and broadcasting, or film making, the concept of omission is quite conveniently overlooked. The audiences a rarely ever, if at all, presented with an accessible platform to seek what the 'other side' to the story and gauge for themselves how media representations are skewed up (pun intended). Ultimately, who benefits from such polarizations and what warrants such misrepresentations? What are some repercussions of the aforementioned issue?

I read his the The Violence of Public Art. I don't think I agree with his claim that all public art is a reminder of an act of violence. I've always been told that art is always up for interpretation, so his piece seems very negative. Maybe the art is talking was constructed during a time in history when there was something negative going on...but does that necessarily mean that the piece itself is representing the bad times? I think it all depends on each persons specific view.

While I don't think it is a waste of time to find out what a filmmaker's intentions might have been with their film or to take into account what they are like personally, I think that Christensen and Mitchell take it too far. Spike Lee makes films and he gets paid well for it. He creates a product that people will pay to see and he tries to bring up issues that clearly trouble him. With "Do the Right Thing" he explores issues of race and class, so shouldn't we just think about the issues he brings up in his films and try to gain some perspective?

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on October 1, 2012 2:31 PM.

Blog 3: Media Literacy was the previous entry in this blog.

Jingyan Jiang-Blog Four is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.