Very Bad Wizards

Episode 58: Do the Right Thing (with Yoel Inbar)

December 1st, 2014

Film critic, VBW regular, and social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins David and Tamler to talk about Spike Lee's controversial 1989 film, Do the Right Thing, a movie about a day in the life of a small Brooklyn community on the hottest day of summer, and how the day's events lead to a race riot. Which characters in the film deserve our sympathy? (Maybe all of them?) Who was Spike Lee criticizing with his depiction of the characters in this community? Why did Mookie start the riot at Sal's? Was his action justified? Was starting the riot the "Right Thing" that Spike Lee was referring to in the title? Twenty five years after its release, how much have things changed? [Please note: we recorded this episode before the Ferguson verdict, which is why--despite some parallels--we don't refer to the verdict or the aftermath.]


Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys a community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. 

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don't even call it violence when it's self-defense, I call it intelligence. 

- Malcolm X

Support Very Bad Wizards