This research paper will attempt an analysis of the film pertaining to social class, racial issues, human nature, morality, and historical significance while trying to prove that it is indeed a masterpiece and far from incendiary.
The Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is inhabited mainly by African-Americans but the grocery is run by Koreans, the pizzeria by an Italian-American Sal and his two sons, Pino and Vito and to round out the ethnic assortment, the Brownstone is owned by a yuppie named Clive. Mookie, the pizza-delivery boy is a pivotal character and represents the tenuous link between the Blacks and Whites. Mookie's friend Buggin Out gets into a dispute with Sal concerning his Wall of fame which does not feature any prominent Blacks. The latter retorts sharply and Buggin Out leaves in high dudgeon. This particular incident sets in motion the events which will result in the death of a black man (Radio Raheem), Buggin Out's arrest, and the burning down of Sal's famous pizzeria.
As the story picks up pace, the very atmosphere cackles with the intensity of unresolved conflicts rooted in history as well as mired in the present. The denizens of the neighborhood with their own particular peccadilloes interact with one another, each contributing a little to the rising unrest which results in eventual conflagration. Lee explores the causes for the tragedy in his direct and non-judgmental manner, and they will be discussed in detail below.
The disparity between the classes economy-wise, in an increasingly materialistic word is a telling factor that ferments the seeds of inter-racial hostility and resentment. According to Reid (1997), "The film explores philosophical issues that impinge on the economic" (p. 4). For instance there is a scene depicting three Black men discussing how the Koreans can manage to prosper in their neighborhood, while they themselves have accomplished nothing of worth. The question raised here is whether the blacks have been held down by a bigoted establishment or their own lack of enterprise. However there appears to be no doubt in the minds of the three men. As one character so succinctly puts it, "It's gotta be cuz we're Black. No other explanation, nobody don't want the Black man to be about shit". This particular mindset manifests itself in a particularly dangerous moment towards the end when an infuriated mob threatens to burn down the grocery store. The Koreans escape by appealing to the mob and saying they are also "Black" meaning they belong to the hapless minority. Thus we are also made cognizant of the fact that despite everything they have been through over the ages, the Blacks themselves are not above racism.
Meanwhile Mookie has to endure the constant taunting of his boss's son Pino. The open antagonism between the two may have resulted in Mookie's throwing of the trash-can into the pizzeria - a single confused action bought on by hidden hurts and the passion of the moment which unleashes the fury of the mob and goads them to violent excesses. In the words of Meyer, "The film powerfully portrays how conflicts in the business setting entail and are reflective of conflicts between racial and ethnic groups" (as cited in Lovell, 1998, p. 16).
Racial issues constitute the