Thursday, July 02, 2020

Believe Care Invest: Do the Right Thing

It’s interesting all the ways that Mookie is like Ripley from Alien. They both stick by their company, even at the risk of their friend’s lives, until almost the end of the move, when each one decisively decides to destroy their workplace. Both serve in their story as the only one who bridges upstairs and downstairs (Ripley is the only one who ever goes down into the bowels of the ship to visit Brett and Parker, Mookie is the only one who lives in both the black and white worlds.)

Why it might be hard to identify with Mookie:
  • He’s passive and sullen. Notably, Lee shows us Tina complaining about her son’s deadbeat father (“Your father ain’t no real father, he’s a bum”) without letting us know she’s talking about Mookie until halfway through, which would probably make him too hard to care about before we’d had some chance to bond with him.
  • It’s the hottest day of the year and nobody’s air conditioning is working. Sal says, in reference to his agitation from the heat, “I’m gonna kill somebody today,” which turns out to be sort of true.
  • Although Sal likes and pays Mookie, he also treats him like a slave in some ways: “There’s no free here, I’m the boss. No freedom, I’m the boss.” Mookie is humiliated when he’s told to kick his friend out of the pizza place (“Talk some brother talk to him”) for demanding pictures of black people be put on the walls. “I gotta work here, you’re fucking my shit up,” Mookie says, only to be told, “Stay black,” and we empathize with his humiliation.
  • Mookie isn’t easy to invest in. The moment when we really decide we like him is when he comes out onto the street to walk to work, runs into some Jehovah’s Witnesses, and jauntily shouts “Hell no!” without breaking his stride. Other than that one negative encounter, we see that everybody else likes and respects Mookie, and he’s got a strong community backing him up. We see that he grapples a bit with Da Mayor’s advice, “Always do the right thing.”
Five Es
  • Eat: Never
  • Exercise: He delivers the pizzas by foot.
  • Economic Activity: He’s counting bills when we first see him. His motto is “Gotta get paid.”
  • Enjoy: He enjoys talking with his sister in the first scene. It would be harder to identify with him if we didn’t see that.
  • Emulate: He wears Jackie Robinson’s 42 jersey, and tries, like Robinson to absorb racism without reacting for most of the movie.
Rise above
  • He has to choose between his job and his friend and chooses his job. Sal says, “Mookie, want to get your friend out of here?” and he does so.
High five a black guy
  • He’s a black guy.

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