Week of October 24 (Day class): Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing

05_Flatbed_1 - JUNE

For Tuesday October 24:, we take a detour into representations of the city in film. Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing won the vote, so that’s what we’ll watch. We’ll spend the entire class on the first half of the film. DTRT is now a classic film, but was extremely controversial at the time. commenting on race relations, gentrification, police violence, and much more. We’ll focus on the aspects of race relations, police brutality, gentrification, and urban space as seen in the film.

Read the excerpt from from Murray Forman’s The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop on reading urban space, which is a PDF on the Readings page.

Announcement: If you’re following the paper syllabus, note that the assignment due dates have changed. There is no assignment due next Tuesday. Next one will be based on the film and given out after we’re done with that.


For Thursday October 26:, we finish watching Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

Think about the various themes Lee’s dealing with in the film, especially in context of the time it’s set: Brooklyn in 1989.

Read this article from New York magazine on the intersection of race and Brooklyn gentrification. If you didn’t read the excerpt from Murray Forman’s The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop on reading urban space (PDF on the Readings page), then please do so.

Watch this short summary of Spike Lee’s “rant” about gentrification that caused a lot of controversy and discussion in 2014.

Optional Bonus: Watch the “Making of” documentary by Spike Lee and legendary, now deceased filmmaker St. Clair Bourne, via YouTube.


Highlights from Dutchman class discussion:

  • See my lecture notes on the play
  • The full film version is on YouTube. Be sure to watch the scene with Clay’s response to Lula’s insults and his final speech (starts @ about 40 minutes.)