I wonder if Spike Lee has seen this send-up of his revered 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” put together by the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” team, which imagines a sequel to the film, titled “Do the Right Thing 2: Do the White Thing,” taking into full account that Brooklyn (the borough in which the original film was set) has changed quite a lot since then – as in, it’s been gentrified (and continues to be).
This comes about a year after Spike Lee’s now-infamous, expletive-filled gentrification rant, which went viral, in which he shared his feelings about newcomers who’ve taken over once-blighted parts of America’s most-populous city.
“You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start Bogarting and kill off the Native Americans,” Lee said, adding, “Or what they did in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people… I grew up here in New York. It’s changed… And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every mother******* day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.”
Spike’s provocation of course didn’t go ignored by others with platforms, like New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, who penned a piece for the paper titled “Whose Brooklyn Is It, Anyway?,” which also traveled quite a bit, in which, in a nutshell, Scott called Spike Lee a hypocrite, arguing that he was essentially one of the original gentrifiers he referenced in his rant. And there was also actor Anthony Mackie (and others) who shared similar criticisms of Spike.
Since then, nothing’s really changed, as Brooklyn continues to be gentrified.
“Now, 26 years after the original, we finally have a sequel that we think does an equally good job of reflecting the spirit and feeling of Brooklyn today,” says the Kimmel team. And while the skit doesn’t capture the above divide, it does indeed reflect real changes to the borough, in a comical way of course; although, as a long-time Brooklyn resident, I can say that there is truth in the humor.
Watch “Do the Right Thing 2: Do the White Thing” below: