HULK’S FAVORITE MOVIES: DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)

Spike Lee's masterpiece is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.

DO THE RIGHT THING DOES NOT DESERVE A SHORT POST EXPRESSING FAVORITISM.

IT DESERVES AN ENTIRE BOOK'S WORTH OF ANALYSIS, FOR IT MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST DENSELY-LAYERED CHARACTERIZATIONS OF AMERICAN SOCIETY AND THE WE WAY IDENTIFY / NAVIGATE WITHIN OUR RACIAL LANDSCAPE. WHICH HOPEFULLY DOESN'T MAKE IT SOUND LIKE SOME DIDACTIC TREATISE OR SOMETHING, BECAUSE NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE FILM'S EFFECT. IT'S A BURNING POEM. A LYRICAL, SWEAT-SOAKED MEDITATION ON OUR URBAN CULTURAL MELTING POT, COMPLETE WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT SAID URBAN COMMUNITIES ARE NOT, AS THE NAME WOULD SUGGEST, A SEAMLESS HYBRIDIZATION OF VARIOUS SPICES INTO A DELICIOUS CREOLE STEW, BUT INSTEAD A SERIES OF DISTINCT GROUPS RUBBING UP AGAINST EACH OTHER WITH SCREECHING LEVELS OF FRICTION. THE FILM BRINGS THAT VERY IDEA TO LIFE WITH UNPARALLELED VIVACITY. IT BLASTS THE AUDIENCE WITH BRIGHT COLOR, HUMOR, ANGER, MUSIC AND STARK IDEAS IN EQUAL MEASURE. YOU CAN GO THROUGH VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE SCENE, EVERY SINGLE LINE, AND EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER AND FIND A CLEAR PERSPECTIVE BEING ARTICULATED: MOOKIE. SAL. DA MAYOR. MOTHER SISTER. SENOR LOVE DADDY. BUGGIN OUT. SMILEY. THESE CHARACTERS ARE SIMPLE HUMAN EXPRESSIONS AND YET THEY EMBODY ENTIRE PHILOSOPHIES OUTSIDE OF THEMSELVES. AND IT ALL CULMINATES IN THE FILM BECOMING THAT RICH METAPHOR WE DARE TO CALL A TAPESTRY OF OUR SOCIETY. AND IT'S ONE OF THE FEW BITS OF MEDIA WE HAVE THAT REALLY, TRULY GETS THERE.

WHEN HULK THINKS BACK ON DO THE RIGHT THING AND THE SUMMER OF '89, HULK REMEMBERS WHAT A PROFOUND EFFECT IT HAD ON A YOUNG HULK. THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SEEN UNDER THE COMPLETE INSISTENCE OF PAPA-HULK, AN EDUCATOR OF "TROUBLED YOUTH," WHO FELT IT HAD TRULY ARTICULATED SOMETHING THAT FEW FILMS HAD BEFORE. AND EVEN IF HULK WAS YOUNGER AT THE TIME, EVEN IF IT CHARACTERIZED A MORE COMPLEX ADULT WORLD THAT LAY BEYOND... IT STILL FELT TRUE, EVEN THEN. LIKELY BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A POWERFUL EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE. TO THE YOUTHFUL EYE, NO SOCIETAL MISCONCEPTIONS BLOCKED THE STUNNING INJUSTICE OF THE DEATH OF RADIO RAHEEM. IT WAS AN IMAGE BURNED INTO HULK'S YOUNG PSYCHE WITH ABJECT CLARITY. AND JUST A FEW YEARS LATER, HULK COULD FULLY RECOGNIZE THE FILM, WITH ALL ITS PHILOSOPHICAL AND CINEMATIC GUMPTION, FOR THE EXPLOSIVE MASTERPIECE THAT IT WAS.

BUT PERHAPS SOCIETY REMEMBERS THE FILM A BIT DIFFERENTLY. FOR WHATEVER PASSIONATE SUPPORT DO THE RIGHT THING ENGENDERED UPON ITS RELEASE, THERE WAS STILL THE CANNES UPROAR AND HOW NEWSPAPERS OPENLY WORRIED WHETHER THE FILM WOULD INCITE RIOTS. MOST COMMONLY, THE FILM SEEMED TO ELICIT COMPLETE MISUNDERSTANDING FROM A LOT OF WHITE AUDIENCES ALTOGETHER (THOUGH WE'LL GET TO THAT). PERHAPS THE MOST PERFECT EXPLANATION OF THE POPULAR RESPONSE TO THIS FILM WAS HOW IT CAME OUT THE SAME YEAR AS DRIVING MISS DAISY, WHICH EMBARRASSINGLY WENT ON TO WIN OSCAR GOLD (TO EXPLAIN HULK'S FRUSTRATION: CAN WE PLEASE STOP MAKING MOVIES THAT THINK THEY ARE TEACHING PEOPLE TO OVERCOME RACISM WHEN THEY'RE JUST SUBCONSCIOUSLY DESIGNED TO HELP WHITE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY'VE ALREADY OVERCOME RACISM? MEANING THEY'RE NOT BUILT TO CONFRONT RACISM. THEY'RE BUILT TO CONFIRM YOU'RE NOT RACIST). THESE TWO FILMS, OSTENSIBLY ABOUT THE SAME ISSUE, COULD NOT BE MORE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED IN TERMS OF HONESTY, AIM AND ARTISTIC MERIT. BUT SO IT GOES. AND SO DOES THE CONTINUED POPULARITY OF THESE STUDIO-APPROVED "SAFE" FILMS ABOUT RACE, WHICH ONLY HELPS SHOWCASE HOW DO THE RIGHT THING HAS BECOME MORE RESONANT WITH TIME. TO THIS DAY, THERE IS STILL NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT.

IT'S ALSO THE FILM THAT TRULY LAUNCHED SPIKE LEE INTO THE PUBLIC EYE. HE WAS HERALDED AS HOPEFULLY THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF BRIGHT, UNCOMPROMISING YOUNG BLACK FILMMAKERS (MORE NEVER REALLY GAINED TRACTION - HOW THE HELL DID WE NOT DO RIGHT BY JULIE DASH?). AND LEE WENT ON TO MAKE A STRING OF POWERFUL, OUTSPOKEN MASTERPIECES LIKE MALCOLM X, JUNGLE FEVER AND CLOCKERS (ONE OF THE GREAT UNDERRATED MOVIES OF THE '90S). BUT ALMOST EQUALLY AS FAST, SOCIETY SEEMED TO TIRE OF LEE'S PUBLIC IDENTITY. IT'S AS IF HE BECAME MORE KNOWN FOR BEING A NEW YORKER, A PASSIONATE KNICKS FAN AND SOMEONE WHO OFTEN SAYS "CONTROVERSIAL" THINGS THAT TARGETED THE HYPOCRISY OF WHITE CULTURE MORE THAN HIS IMPRESSIVE FILM WORK. AND HONESTLY, HULK WORRIES THAT HE HAS ONLY BECOME MORE MISUNDERSTOOD WITH TIME. ESPECIALLY NOW, AS MANY OF OUR CULTURAL GATEKEEPERS ARE QUICK TO THINK OF BLACK ARTISTS SOLELY IN TERMS OF A POST-RACIAL SOCIETY. DON'T GET HULK WRONG, THE FACT THAT WE DO THIS AT ALL IS WORTHY OF MERIT. SUCH PERSPECTIVE ALLOWS THE ARTIST THE RIGHT TO ENGAGE IN ART NOT EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH A RACIAL IDENTITY. IT ALSO ENCOURAGES THE EXISTENCE OF "POST-RACIAL" MODELS TO INVERT THE THINKING THAT WHITE = DEFAULT. BUT TO GO SO FAR AS TO TALK ALONG THOSE LINES EXCLUSIVELY HAS THE INADVERTENT IMPLICATION THAT WE ARE ALL LIVING IN THIS SWELL HARMONIOUS CULTURE, WHEREIN THE MAJOR RACE ISSUES ARE PURELY ABOUT THE NUANCE OF MOMENTARY INTERACTIONS. IT IS ACTUALLY A KIND OF IGNORANCE IN A STRANGE WAY. AND IT ALSO LEAVES THE UNRELENTING, SEEMING DICHOTOMY-LIKE THINKING OF SPIKE LEE TO FEEL LIKE SOMETHING FROM A BYGONE ERA. WHEN REALLY, LEE IS JUST TRYING TO BE A VOCAL REMINDER OF WHAT STILL EXISTS FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS; NOT JUST THE AMERICANS WHO NEVER GO BELOW THE 10 FREEWAY (LOS ANGELES REFERENCE). BECAUSE IT'S STILL 1989 IN MOST PLACES. AND AS WE CAN SEE FROM THE NEWS, IT'S STILL 1959 IN OTHERS TOO. PUT SIMPLY: DO THE RIGHT THING IS STILL HAPPENING.

SO WHEN SOMEONE RECENTLY CALLED HULK A SPIKE LEE APOLOGIST, HULK ARGUED THERE'S NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. EVEN ON A PURELY CINEMATIC LEVEL, HE'S ONE OF THE FEW FILMMAKERS PERIOD WHO IS STILL COMMITTED TO GETTING ACROSS HIS VISION IN EVERY FILM. YEAH, SOMETIMES IT MISSES WILDLY. HE'S EVEN MADE MOVIES HULK'S OUTRIGHT DISLIKED. BUT WHEN HE HITS, EVEN FOR JUST A MOMENT, THERE IS NO MORE POWERFUL AND BRAZEN CINEMA ON THE PLANET. HE'S ONE OF OUR LAST GENUINE AUTEURS; SOMEONE EQUALLY CONCERNED WITH HIS MESSAGING AND VIEWPOINT AS HE IS HIS MODE OF DELIVERY. AND EVEN THOUGH HE'S NOT IN HIS EARLY '90S "PRIME," IT'S LIKE WE FORGET HE'S STILL MAKING GREAT FILMS. THE 25TH HOUR IS A MASTERPIECE. EVEN WITH TRAGEDY, THERE ARE FEW DOCUMENTARIES BURSTING WITH MORE LIFE THAN 4 LITTLE GIRLS AND WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE. EVEN WITH HIS MORE COMMERCIAL FAIR, HE'S ALWAYS TRYING TO COME AT HIS CINEMA AND DOCUMENTATION WITH VIVID PERSPECTIVE. IT'S LIKE PEOPLE DON'T EVEN REALIZE THAT INSIDE MAN IS ONE OF THE MOST PERSONAL, ANGRY AND OUTSPOKEN GENRE BLOCKBUSTERS OF THE LAST FEW DECADES (IT WAS ALSO PRESCIENT AS IT PRE-DATED THE WALL ST. / BANKING HORROR BY 2 YEARS).

SO WHEN THE MOST POPULAR AND RESONANT BLACK FILMMAKER TO COMPARE HIM TO IS TYLER PERRY (WHO, AS OUR OWN EVAN SAATHOFF WILL ARGUE, IS STILL AN INFINITELY MORE COMPLICATED AND WEIRD FILMMAKER THAN PEOPLE GIVE CREDIT FOR), IT JUST MEANS THAT SPIKE LEE IS JUST AS VITAL AS EVER. HE'S NOT ONLY ONE OF OUR LAST TRUE AUTEURS, HE'S ONE OF THE FEW WHO WILL ACTIVELY ENGAGE THE LEFTOVER AND VERY-REAL UGLINESS AT THE HEART OF OUT WORST-POSSIBLE SELVES. WE LAUDED HIM FOR BEING ONE OF THE FIRST TO CONFRONT THESE ISSUES, AND NOW, WHAT? WE'VE GROWN TIRED BECAUSE HE REFUSES TO STOP CONFRONTING THEM? BECAUSE MAKE NO MISTAKE, THE LESSONS AT THE HEART OF DO THE RIGHT THING HAVEN'T CHANGED ONE IOTA IN 25 YEARS. IN FACT, THEY LEAVE US ASKING SOME PRETTY POINTED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EVENTS IN FERGUSON: WHY ARE WE MORE ANGRY ABOUT THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE? WHY DO WE GET MORE ANGRY WHEN 2 JOURNALISTS GET ARRESTED WITH NO CAUSE IN A MCDONALDS THAN WHEN SCORES OF YOUNG BLACK MALES ARE SUBJECTED TO THE SAME? JUST BECAUSE IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, THAT MAKES IT OKAY? HULK WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE WITH SOMEONE IN AVENGERS HQ AND THEY STARTED TO REASON: "Well, if it's journalists, they're held to the standard of truth, so we can believe them and it's-" AND THEN THEY STOPPED, IMMEDIATELY REALIZING THE HORROR OF WHAT THEY WERE IMPLYING: THAT YOU CAN'T EQUALLY BELIEVE THE OTHERS??? EVEN WHEN IT HAPPENS TO THEM RITUALLY??? EVEN IF IT WASN'T MEANT, IT IS REALLY JUST ITS OWN KIND OF OBLIQUE IGNORANCE. BECAUSE WE MISS THE MOST OBVIOUS QUESTION AT THE HEART OF ALL THESE CONFLICTS ALL THE TIME. WE MISS THE THING THAT STARTS ALL OF THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE. IT WAS SOMETHING ILLUMINATED IN DEVIN'S GREAT PIECE ON BATTLESTAR'S CONNECTION WITH FERGUSON, WHEREIN HE ENDED IT WITH THIS PRESCIENT TWEET FROM AHMAD ABUZNAID:

IT GETS RIGHT AT THE EXISTENTIAL HEART OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BLACK IN AMERICA.

NOW, IF YOU'RE EXPECTING HULK TO TELL YOU HULK KNOWS THIS FROM EXPERIENCE, NO. HULK CAN'T SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE AND WOULD NEVER TRY TO DO THAT. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN HULK WILL BE AFRAID TO ENGAGE THE QUESTION, TO TALK ABOUT IT OR TO BE WRONG AND GROW FROM IT. AND IT ESPECIALLY DOESN'T MEAN HULK CAN'T READILY IDENTIFY HOW BAD WE ARE AT LISTENING TO THOSE WHO CAN SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE.

BECAUSE, YEAH, NO ONE REALLY LISTENS.

AS HULK SAID, WE CAN'T HELP BUT TURN WHAT IS HAPPENING IN FERGUSON INTO THINGS THAT ARE MORE RELEVANT TO US. EVEN IF WE'RE NOT CONSCIOUSLY BLURRING IT ALONG RACIAL LINES, WE STILL TURN IT AN ISSUE ABOUT THE MILITARIZATION OF THE POLICE, OR THE INSANE ARREST OF JOURNALISTS. HECK, EVEN THIS VERY DISCUSSION WILL GET OBSCURED BY THOSE WHO CRY OUT "Why is the fucking Hulk talking about racism? That's an offense to my sense of decorum! This is a serious subject!" WHICH HAS THE INADVERTENT EFFECT OF BEING NOTHING BUT AN ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THIS DISCUSSION IN A PUBLIC FORUM AND, IN THE VERY LEAST, SERVE AS A DISTRACTION FROM THE OBVIOUS POINT THAT EVERYONE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE, EVEN THE DUMBEST AUTHORIAL DEVICES ON THE INTERNET. WE CAN'T GET DISTRACTED FROM THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE AT HAND: POLICE KEEP KILLING UNARMED BLACK MEN AND WOMEN. TO THE POINT WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED... AND THEN, YOU KNOW, WE DON'T ADDRESS IT. IT'S AS IF WE HAVE A PSYCHOLOGICAL BLOCK BECAUSE WE CAN'T SEE IT THE WAY IT NEEDS TO BE SEEN. WE SEE IT AS AN UNFORTUNATE RESULT. A BYPRODUCT OF OTHER ISSUES. OR ONE THAT JUST GOES ON TO MAKE US THINK ABOUT OTHER ISSUES THAT HIT CLOSER TO HOME. WHICH ALL JUST REMINDS HULK OF THE TIME THAT HULK SHOWED DO THE RIGHT THING TO A BUNCH OF THOUGHTFUL (AND VERY WHITE) HIGH SCHOOL KIDS AND THEY EXCLAIMED: "But I don't get it. He didn't do the right thing!" THEIR CONFUSION, MUCH LIKE THE TWEET ABOVE, HIGHLIGHTS JUST HOW WE KEEP IGNORING THE VERY THING THAT MATTERS MOST AND TRIGGERS ALL OF THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE. WE SEE THE DEATH OF RADIO RAHEEM AS AN EVENT IN A LONG SERIES OF CAUSE + EFFECT. WE FAIL TO SEE IT AS THE POINT WHERE THE MOST GRIEVOUS CRIME OF ALL IS COMMITTED. WE DON'T SEE IT AS THE MOMENT WHEN SOMEONE DID THE WRONG THING. IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHING ELSE. AND OUR CULTURAL IGNORANCE OF THAT IS EVERYTHING.

IT IS PART OF DO THE RIGHT THING'S DESIGN, TO CONFRONT THIS HEAD ON.

FOR ONE, IT IS PART OF THE METHOD OF ART WHICH SHOWS SOCIETY AS IT IS, INSTEAD OF HOW IT SHOULD BE. THIS METHOD DIRECTLY CONFRONTS US BY EFFECTIVELY HOLDING UP A MIRROR TO OUR OWN REACTIONS. WHICH SOUNDS LIKE IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS, BUT YOU'D BE SHOCKED HOW OFTEN PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS TACTIC AND OFTEN REACT WORSE THAN THEY DO TO THE REALITY ITSELF. LOOK NO FURTHER THAN SOME PEOPLE'S REACTION TO WOLF OF WALL STREET, WHICH WAS ACCUSED OF PROPAGATING IMMORALITY AND GLORIFYING ITS SUBJECT WHEN IT IS A FILM THAT DOESN'T PULL A SINGLE PUNCH ON THE SUBJECT'S HORRIBLE BEHAVIOR AND LITERALLY ENDS BY POINTING THE PROBLEM AT THE AUDIENCE'S COMPLICIT NATURE. SOCIETY WRONGLY DEIFIES THESE RICH GUYS AND THEN JUST GIVES THEM A SLAP ON THE WRIST WHEN THEY GET IN TROUBLE, SO WHY SHOULD THE FILM DO ANYTHING MORE THAN THAT? WHY SHOULD THE FILM BE FORCED TO MORALIZE AND PUNISH AND SHOW THE QUIET HEROISM OF THE GOOD, INSTEAD OF READILY POINTING OUT THIS HORRIFIC IRONY THAT WE NEVER DO? WHY SHOULD IT TRY TO REMOVE US FROM SUCH ACCUSATION? AS HULK HAS LONG ARGUED, FILMS ABOUT TOUGH ISSUES CAN ACTUALLY DO A DISSERVICE BY MORALIZING THE SUBJECT FOR US, BY SHOWING A TOUGH ISSUE HOW IT SHOULD BE, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT PRECISELY LETS THE AUDIENCE OFF THE HOOK. FOR PROOF, LOOK HOW ANGRY AUDIENCES WILL GET WHEN FILMS DON'T DO THAT WORK FOR US, WHEN THEY DON'T PUNISH THE BAD OR UPHOLD THE GOOD. MOVIES ARE POWERFUL THINGS THAT CAN STRIKE UP STRONG EMOTIONS INSIDE US. AS SUCH WE WANT THEM TO REFLECT WHAT WE WANT. BUT WHEN THEY MAKE US CULPABLE, WHEN THEY INCLUDE US IN THE PROBLEM ITSELF, WE GET MAD FOR WHEN THEY SHOW US HOW WE ARE.

WHICH JUST HIGHLIGHTS HOW AMAZING DO THE RIGHT THING IS AT NAVIGATING ALL OF THIS. IT HAS THE COURAGE NOT TO EXPRESS RADIO RAHEEM'S VICTIMIZATION THROUGH OBVIOUS AND INARGUABLE INJUSTICE, BUT GET AT THE HONEST COMPLEXITY OF THE EVENT AND EVERYONE INVOLVED TOO. IF RACE IS A NARRATIVE, THEN THIS FILM ISN'T SUGAR-COATING THE NARRATIVE AT ALL. MEANING THE STORY IS NOT A CARTOONISH SERIES OF MECHANICAL EVENTS DESIGNED TO TEACH AND MAKE US FEEL BETTER. IN FACT, THE CHARACTERS ARE JUST AS CONFUSED AND CONFLICTED AS WE ARE, OFTEN MEDIATING ON THEIR IDENTITY AND PURPOSE, ALBEIT THROUGH CONFLICT... BUT WE DON'T NOTICE. HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED HOW FEW CRITICS NOTE HOW MUCH TIME THE FILM SPENDS BEING OUTRIGHT CRITICAL OF MOOKIE? WHO IS PERHAPS A PERFECT CHARACTERIZATION OF WAYWARD YOUTH: OBSESSED WITH EASY MONEY, SLACKING AT HIS JOB, NOT TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS LIFE / FAMILY. SPIKE LEE, BY PLAYING THE LEAD, ISN'T DOING SO TO GLORIFY THE CHARACTER (SOMETHING PEOPLE ACTUALLY SUGGEST), BUT TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT. HE IS MAKING HIMSELF CULPABLE IN SUCH FAULT, CONFRONTING EVERY ASPECT AT THE HEART OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE. TO BE CLEAR: THE FILM IS NOT CONDONING HIS BEHAVIOR; IT'S TRYING TO GET US TO UNDERSTAND IT. EVEN BETTER, IT'S REFLECTING THE NATURE OF YOUTH AT LARGE, MOOKIE IS NO DIFFERENT THAN THE SCORES OF MISGUIDED YOUNG PROTAGONISTS WHO HAVE COME BEFORE. BESIDES, EVERY CHARACTER IN DO THE RIGHT THING WRESTLES WITH THEIR OWN PARTICULAR PHILOSOPHY, AND ALL SEEM TO HAVE A VICE OF COPING OR MAKE A MISTAKE. DA MAYOR, OUR VENERABLE VAGRANT, MUST THRIVE ON ALCOHOL TO EVEN DEAL WITH THE LIFE HE'S SEEN, AN APPROXIMATION OF A GENERATION EMBATTLED WITH CIVIL RIGHTS. MOTHER SISTER, HAUNTED BY SONGS OF THE PAST. THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS. AND WHAT THE FILM POSTULATES IS THAT WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HUMAN BEINGS WITH VICES, AND PERSPECTIVE, AND ANGER. IT'S PART OF OUR HUMAN NARRATIVE. AND EVEN NOW, THERE IS A FIGHT TO SHAPE THE NARRATIVE OF WHO MICHAEL BROWN IS AND THE EVENTS THAT LED TO HIS DEATH. HULK CAN GUARANTEE THE NARRATIVE WILL CHANGE MORE.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE CRUX OF THE ENTIRE POINT:

NOBODY DESERVES TO DIE FOR SUCH NORMAL HUMAN FAULT.

JUST AS NOBODY DESERVES TO DIE FOR PLAYING THEIR MUSIC TOO LOUD.

SO WHY, WHEN LOOKING AT THE TIMELINE OF EVENTS, DO WE READ SUCH ACTS OF PROVOCATION? HOW DOES A PREVIOUS THEFT AFFECT THE SITUATION IN FERGUSON? WHY DID THOSE HIGH SCHOOL KIDS SAY "But if Radio Raheem turned down his music he wouldn't have died!" THEY SEE IT AS NOTHING MORE THEN ACTIVATING A PIECE OF WHAT THE INDIVIDUAL CAN CONTROL TO PREVENT A "LOGICAL" SUCCESSION OF EVENTS, AND YET IT'S NOTHING MORE THAN A SHADE OF VICTIM BLAMING. HOW MANY OF THE SAME PEOPLE POINT OUT THAT IF SAL HADN'T CALLED IT "jungle music" AND TREATED RAHEEM WITH SUCH DISDAIN THEN HE WOULDN'T HAVE DIED EITHER? WHY IS THE OVER-EXERTION OF FORCE AN ACCIDENT? WHY IS IT ALWAYS AN ACCIDENT? WHO DESERVES TO DIE FOR ACTING LIKE MOST NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS WOULD IN A SITUATION OF PROVOCATION?

TO WIT, HOW MANY TIMES HAS HULK SEEN DUMBASS WHITE KIDS PROVOKING OFFICERS IN FAR MORE OFFENDING WAYS TO FAR LESSER RESULTS? HULK'S SEEN PEOPLE DO DUMB ENOUGH THINGS TO BE ROUGHED UP, ARRESTED AND EVEN CHARGED, BUT IT'S ALMOST ALWAYS UNDER THE SAFETY OF KNOWING THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE GUNNED DOWN OR CHOKED TO DEATH... YOU KNOW, FOR SOME MYSTERIOUS REASON! BUT THAT DIFFERENCE IS EVERYTHING, ISN'T IT? HULK'S SEEN COUNTLESS RIOTS AFTER SPORTING EVENTS AND SEEN THE COPS LAUGHING AS A BUNCH OF WHITE COLLEGE KIDS JUMPED ON CARS. MEANWHILE, ONE OF HULK'S FRIENDS GOT SINGLED OUT FROM THE FRAY AND CALLED "A fucking terrorist" AND TOLD "just give me a reason to put this gun up your Arab ass and pull the trigger!" (FACT: HE WAS INDIAN). HULK HAD TO DRAG SAID FRIEND BACK 10 BLOCKS FROM FIGHTING WITH THE COP. WE LATER LODGED COMPLAINTS TO ZERO RESPONSE. AND THE POLICE JUST LET THE DUMBASS COLLEGE KIDS HAVE THEIR FUN. BUT IT WASN'T UNTIL A YOUNG WHITE GIRL WAS TRAGICALLY KILLED THAT THE POLICE COMPLETELY ACTUALLY CHANGED THEIR TACTICS. THE THING IS THAT HULK 100% UNDERSTANDS THAT THESE ARE JUST ANECDOTES, OBJECTIVE PROOF OF NOTHING, BUT WE'D BE IDIOTIC TO IGNORE THE STARK DIFFERENCE.

YOUNG BLACK MALES, OSTENSIBLY NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER MALES IN TERMS OF PSYCHOLOGY, FACE DIRE CONSEQUENCES OF TAKING UP RIGHTFUL ANGER WITH UNDUE DEATH AND CRITICISM. LIKE THE TWEET SAYS, YEARS LATER WE'RE STILL ASKING WHY MOOKIE THREW THE TRASHCAN INSTEAD OF WHY THEY KILLED RADIO RAHEEM. AND THE PROBLEM IS WE'VE SEEN THIS STORY BEFORE. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS JUST A YEAR AGO WITH OSCAR GRANT AND FRUITVALE. BUT IT WAS BEFORE THAT TOO: TODAY IT'S MICHAEL BROWN, BUT JUST A MOMENT AGO IT WAS ERIC GARNER. BEFORE THAT? KIMANI GRAY. KENDRICK MCDADE. TIMOTHY RUSSELL. ERVIN JEFFERSON. AMADOU DIALLO. PATRICK DORISMOND. OUSMANE ZONGO. TIMONTHY STANSBURY JR. SEAN BELL. ORLANDO BARLOW. AARON CAMPBELL. VICTOR STEEN. STEVEN EUGENE WASHINGTON. ALONZO ASHLEY. WENDELL ALLEN. RONALD MADISON. JAMES BRISSETTE. TRAVARES MCGILL. RAMARLEY GRAHAM. WHICH IS NOTHING TO SAY OF TARIKA WILSON. AIYANA JONES. MIRIAM CAREY. SHEREESE FRANCIS. SHANTEL DAVIS. SHARMEL EDWARDS. REKIA BOYD. TYISHA MILLER. AND YVETTE SMITH.

SOME OF THESE STORIES INVOLVE SOME KIND OF SMALL PROVOCATION. SOME OF THESE EVENTS BORDER ON STRAIGHT-UP MURDER. BUT ALL OF THESE STORIES FEATURE ONE SIMILARITY: A "MISUNDERSTANDING" OF LAW ENFORCEMENT BASED ON AN IMPOSSIBLE EXPECTATION FOR THE VICTIMS' NON-BEHAVIOR. A BEHAVIOR WHICH CANNOT EXPRESS FEAR, ANGER, OR INVOLUNTARY MOVEMENT ON THE OFF-CHANCE THAT BEHAVIOR MIGHT BE MISINTERPRETED AS VIOLENT. IT IS AN EXPECTATION, WHICH IF NOT MET, RESULTS IN DEATH. EVEN THE ONION NAILED THE INSANITY OF THIS. BUT WORST OF ALL IT MEANS THE LINE OF TACIT PERMISSION FOR OFFICERS IS PUSHED ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE OF REASON. WHY ELSE WOULD ANY OF THESE ACTS OF PROVOCATION, NONE OF WHICH ARE DESERVING OF CAPITAL EXECUTION, MOST OFTEN RESULT IN PAID-LEAVE AND A SLAP ON THE WRIST? "Well it was an accident." WE REASON. OR "They thought they had a gun." OF COURSE THEY DID. LARGELY BECAUSE IF ONE IS GOING INTO A SITUATION WITH THAT EXPECTATION, THEN THAT EXPECTATION IS WHAT WILL BE SOUGHT. AND WHEN PEOPLE GET INCENSED ABOUT SUCH A RIDICULOUS STATE OF EXPECTATION, THEY ARE THEN REQUIRED BY SOCIETY TO APPROACH IT AS MARTIN LUTHER KING WOULD HAVE, LEST THEY BE LABELED AS RIOTOUS ANIMALS. OUR GREATER SOCIETY EXPECTS THESE OFFENSES TO BE MET WITH SADNESS. A SOLEMN VIGIL. A TRAGEDY AND THE GOOD WISHING THAT NO MORE BLOOD BE SPILLED, WHICH WILL IN TURN SOLVE EVERYTHING OR SOMETHING. BUT INSTEAD OF SOLVING? WE'VE ENACTED A SERIES OF MEASURES THAT MAKE IT EASIER FOR THIS TO HAPPEN AND MILITARIZED THE POLICE, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY REMOVING COPS THAT WALK BEATS.

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE WHEN THE WRONG THINGS ARE DONE TO YOU.

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN NO ONE LISTENS.

"But we are listening!" YOU SHOUT...

WELL, WE'RE LISTENING SELECTIVELY THEN. BECAUSE WE KEEP FOCUSING ON THE WRONG ANSWERS. EVEN WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA FINALLY RESPONDED HE DOESN'T MENTION RACE BECAUSE IT CAN BE CONSTRUED AS FUELING THE FIRES. BUT THAT'S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. AND WE CONTINUE TO DEMAND THE INHUMAN RESPONSE, THE MERE SADNESS, THE PROVERBIAL VIGIL; THE TREATMENT OF THIS AS AN "ACCIDENT" IN THE FACE OF CONSTANT, PROLONGED INJUSTICE... WHEN IT IS ALTOGETHER HUMAN TO BE ANGRY ABOUT IT TOO.

THIS IS ALL IN THE MOVIE, BY THE WAY.

WE FORGET ONE OF THE KEY LAST SCENES OF DO THE RIGHT THING, WHEREIN THE STUTTERING SMILEY WANDERS INTO THE RUINS OF SAL'S PIZZERIA AND PLACES THE IMAGES OF MALCOLM X AND MARTIN LUTHER KING JR ON THE WALL. THE FILM LATER FOLLOWS THIS UP WITH TWO OF THE MOST FAMOUS QUOTES BY BOTH FIGURES ON THE NATURE OF VIOLENCE. HULK'S LITERALLY SEEN PEOPLE PROCEED TO ARGUE WHICH IS "RIGHT" AND WHICH ONE THE FILM IS TRYING TO CONVEY, WHICH DUMBFOUNDINGLY MISSES THE IDEA BEING PRESENTED THAT BOTH INCLINATIONS LOGICALLY, EMOTIONALLY AND RIGHTFULLY LIE WITHIN EVERY HUMAN BEING. AND TO DENY THAT RIGHT, TO HOLD ONE TO RIDICULOUS STANDARDS THAT THEY DO NOT HOLD FOR THEMSELVES, ESPECIALLY IN THE FACE OF OPPRESSION, IS NOT IMPOSSIBLY UNFAIR BUT JUST ANOTHER FORM OF THE OPPRESSION ITSELF. WE CANNOT OPERATE A SOCIETY UNDER THE PRETENSE THAT OPPRESSED GROUPS HAVE TO ACT AS MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. OR GHANDI (TWO OF THE GREATEST HUMAN BEINGS / LEADERS THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN) IN ORDER TO BE TAKEN WITH EVEN A HINT OF VALIDITY / NOT GET SHOT. IT'S A COMICALLY DARK EXPECTATION. ESPECIALLY WHEN WE MORE READILY GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT TO VIOLENT POLICE OFFICERS, RAPISTS, ETC. IT IS A REALITY THAT HULK CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE. THE ONE THAT'S ACTUALLY KEPT HULK AWAKE THE LAST FEW NIGHTS. FOR WHENEVER WE HAVE TO SUFFER 1/64TH THE INHUMANITY THAT BLACK MALES ARE SUBJECTED TO ON A REGULAR BASIS, WE PRACTICALLY GO OFF THE HANDLE.

DO THE RIGHT THING BRINGS THIS REALITY TO THE FOREFRONT: ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING? HOW CAN WE EXPECT THAT WHEN SOCIETY HAS THE COMPLETE INABILITY TO RECOGNIZE THE WRONG THING WHEN IT'S HAPPENING? AND IT'S JUST ONE OF THE MANY IDEAS THAT THE FILM ECHOES. A MERE THREAD IN A TAPESTRY THAT COLORS ALL THE SHADES OF OUR LIVES. AND THROUGH THE ENDLESSLY COMPLEX LAYERS OF OUR PUBLIC REACTION, IT HAS BEEN THE ONE THING THAT STICKS WITH HULK FROM THAT VERY FIRST VIEWING 25 YEARS AGO. WE HAVE TO STOP MAKING IT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE AND ZERO IN ON ADDRESSING WHAT HULK WILL CALL THE "UNRELENTING REALITY OF RADIO RAHEEM." SURE, A MORE RESPONSIBLE STATE-LEVEL POLICE FORCE HAS ALREADY BEEN CALLED IN. BUT THIS WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.

BECAUSE TOMORROW'S GOING TO BE EVEN HOTTER.

<3HULK

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