Do the Right Thing is a film about conflict and conversation. With preternatural vision and skill, director Spike Lee creates urban America in microcosm across a handful of larger-than-life Bed-Stuy blocks sweltering in the summer sun, and on these sidewalks and shopfronts presents a procession of discussions – between black and white, male and female, young and old, past and present, boyfriend and girlfriend, brother and sister, brother and brother, father and son, native and immigrant, have and have-not. Lee encourages us to follow each dialogue and recognise both sides. Then, in an act of marvelous courage by the filmmakers, the viewer is given licence not to decide or conclude or offer a verdict, but to witness, consider and reflect. Spike expects us to think.
In this issue of The Electronic Labyrinth, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of perhaps the greatest Hollywood film in our lifetimes, Luke Littleboy and Fletcher Walton have a go at understanding how Spike and his team marshal the instruments of cinema to articulate these arguments within the community they’ve so vividly realised, as over the course of the hottest day of the year limitations in understanding threaten alliances and push us to crisis.