Theory in Action


Broadly speaking, conflicts can be counted among the consequences of misunderstanding. Conflicts occur because the parties are incapable of understanding the motives behind each other’s claims. Conflicts among individuals happen because they are focused mainly on their own opinions alone. Instead of taking opponent’s feelings and arguments into account, persons tend to defend their own position. Apparently, understanding someone else’s opinion is important. Solving a problem suggests that one of the parties involved in a conflict is capable of compromising, takes interest in searching for the truth, and may convince another party by means of logical persuasion. Largely, being familiar with the criminological theories gives insight into persons’ behaviors and motivations during a conflict. By so doing, preventing a wrangle becomes possible.

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In the modern technology-driven, globalized, and multicultural world, elimination of race-, nation-, gender-, and age-based prejudices has become especially important. Typically, reconciliation and peace are achieved not by minimizing the possibility of conflict itself, but mostly, much depends on how the parties approach the conflict itself. Thus, the film Do the Right Thing can be viewed as an example that proves the aforementioned statement. Particularly, in an episode when Mother Sister offended Mayor for several times, he presented flowers to her. Thus, Mother Sister started to realize that she had been wrong about the Mayor. At the beginning of the film, the Mayor said: “One day you'll be nice to me. We might both be dead and buried, but you'll be nice. At least civil” (Lee, 1989). Evidently, it turned out that the Mayor was right. Furthermore, the film being discussed can be viewed as an example of practical use of knowledge of criminological theories. The following essay is merely an attempt to prove that knowledge of criminological theories is important. Being familiar with the criminological theories has become especially important these days, when people have been given a chance to communicate freely with one another. Being familiar with the criminological theories makes understanding of the setting and motives behind the actions of other people better.

Social Setting of the Film

The film Do the Right Things portrays the stories of ordinary people residing in one of the building located in one of the streets of Brooklyn. Mookie is one of the central characters. He is an ordinary man. He works at a Sal’s café, his function is to deliver pizza. He earns around 250 dollars per week. He is in good relationships with his boss. Thus, Mookie has arguments with his friends from time to time as one of them attempts to speak ill of Sal.

Mookie’s relations are his sister Jade, his girlfriend Tina, and his and Tina’s son. Unlike Mookie, who is an ordinary man, there is something special about all other characters. Other characters’ unique features help them to understand that the life in their neighborhood is not easy as each and every one of them faces occasionally a great deal of social issues. Mookie, in his turn, realizes that his own social status is low as well. In fact, the aforementioned aspects are important for characterizing the social setting of this film because people who live in the neighborhood are either disillusioned or dissatisfied with their own jobs, destiny, friends, siblings, relatives, and surroundings. Therefore, it cannot be denied that the characters of the film are mostly discontent with their lives.

Life in Brooklyn is stereotyped and prejudiced in a sense that people are inclined to think that the crime rates are high in that particular area which happens mostly because the area is inhabited by the representatives of the African-American group. In this respect, Do the Right Thing shows the audience that some of the stereotypes that exist are true. Specifically, the high crime rates associated with the residents’ belonging to different ethnic groups are considered the main reasons for conflicts and arguments in their environment. For example, there is a Korean family who has moved to Brooklyn and has managed to start their own business in only one year. The family owns a grocery store. Some people in the neighborhood become jealous of the owners of the grocery store. Even the elder people start to act aggressively. Particularly, the three old men are plotting to destroy the shop, but there people who stop them.

Application of Criminological Theories

The film being discussed focuses on not merely portraying Mookie’s ordinary day, but describing other characters’ behaviors as well. At the beginning of the film, people are depicted kind and patient. In the middle of the day people become more and more irritated because no one can escape the heat. Furthermore, people start to act aggressively. Due to the fact that people’s aggression manifests itself in different ways, application of different criminological theories is noticeable. The first theory that one may notice while watching the film is the social learning theory. Even though no one commits a crime in an episode itself, the film vividly describes how the eldest son of Sal is copying from his father’s behavior. Therefore, he is trying to make his brother do something by shouting at him, which can be viewed as, perhaps, one of the brightest examples of how children mimic their parents’ behavior.

As far as crime perpetration is concerned, it should be noted that the film being discussed also illustrates how a general theory of crime works. Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) claim that individuals who commit crimes, defined as “acts of force or fraud undertaken in pursuit of self-interest”, are characterized by low levels of self-control (p. 15). Particularly, the film portrays a group of friends who do nothing the whole day but accost different people. There is a criminal offender and a criminal opportunity because the aforementioned youngsters are not very good at self-control. As a result of their activities, the youngsters damage a fireplug and somebody’s cabriolet.

The so-called control balance is, perhaps, most vividly expressed in the film. One can observe it at the point where action reaches a crisis point. The residents of the neighborhood stay petrified by a murder of Radio Raheem. Since Mookie is very upset and cannot control his emotions and the situation itself, he just throws a dumpster at the Sal’s café window. Afterward, people realize that they need to destroy this pizzeria, but in fact, they do not have any reasons for this. Thus, that is a perfect example of a crime committed by people who just cannot control either themselves or the situation in general.

Overall Reaction to the Film

Broadly speaking, watch the film Do the Right Thing turned out to be an interesting and educational experience. On the other hand, the film does not provoke any feeling of excitement, nor can the film itself be characterized as absorbing or spectacular. One the one hand, contrast as, perhaps, the key artistic principle that the makers of the film employ petrifies the audience. On the other hand, the film helps the audience to understand the motives behind people’s actions better. Particularly, after watching Do the Right Thing one may come to realize that anti-social behavior does not mean that people who behave that way are bad; partly, it is the setting that causes individual’s anti-social behavior.

Stephen Moyer said: “Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are” (Brainy Quote, n.d.). Evidently, this principle does not apply to the film Do the Right Thing. Most people in this motion picture are portrayed kind by nature, but they are just too upset and frustrated in the last scene to remain calm. The point is that the actions of neither of the film’s characters can be justified in the real life.

Concluding Statements

In the film Do the Right Thing, the residents of a building located in Brooklyn are brought on the verge of becoming insane under the influence of unnaturally hot weather. Attempting to resist the heat, the vast majority of the characters of the film fail. By the end of the film, the characters of the film prove a stereotype that Brooklyn is a dangerous place to live by destroying the café and setting it on fire. Apart from that, the film contains some episodes that illustrate different criminological theories. In this respect, Mookie’s actions can be viewed as the illustration of control balance theory; the actions of a group of youngsters who damage the fire hydrant illustrate the general theory of crime; social learning theory can be applied to Pino’s actions. Clearly, the film addresses a great deal of social and ethical problems.

Mookie seems to be a good person, but his real nature reveals itself in the last scenes of the film. Circumstantially, Mookie is the reason of the residents’ outrageous behavior. Mookie’s actions cannot be justified, as well as Sal’s and his sons’ attitude towards the clients. On the other hand, Sal deserves the punishment he got by no means.

People behave in keeping with their convictions. Unfortunately, not everyone can understand their own motives, which is why there are unfounded conflicts. Knowledge of criminological theories can help people analyze their own and other people’s behaviors and by so doing, prevent catastrophic consequences.


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