Synthesis Essay

Synthesis Essay


  1. Directions: Describe / summarize your topic. Who/what/when/where/etc. ~1 page double-spaced with in-text citation as needed. 

Spike Lee was a very popular black filmmaker who started to become popular in the mid-’80s from his movies. Spike Lee was born in 1957 in Atlanta, GA but was raised in Brooklyn, NY. Lee was making films at age 20 at Morehouse College and went on to graduate from New York University Film School in 1982. “His first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn, was completed when he was an undergraduate at Morehouse College”( Spike Lee is one of the most influential and successful filmmakers to come out of the ’80s and his movies are still very relevant in today’s world. Lee started to gain a lot of success after his movies “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do The Right Thing.” In his 1989 film “Do The Right Thing” he explored racial tensions in America and not only did he direct it he was one of the main characters; this is one of his most beloved films that still has a lot of relevance today especially after this past year. Spike Lee was one of few directors to survive the new black film wave; Lee was able to survive this new wave because he could do so much with little. One of Lee’s biggest movies “Do The Right Thing” had only a $6 million budget which isn’t much. He’s come a long way with his filmmaking being such a successful African American filmmaker while also being a key groundbreaking American filmmaker. 

  1. Restate and answer your EQ. This is the analytical part — avoid merely presenting the facts of the event or person, but instead interpret their impact. 
  • Use evidence from each of your sources & cite using MLA in-text citations. 
    • You must cite each of your 4 sources in this section. At least 1 citation should be for a meaningful quotation.
  • Unite your answer(s) under main claims. 
  • This should be multiple significant paragraphs, 1.5-2 pgs double-spaced.

EQ: How did Spike Lee’s Films Influence Race in Filmmaking?

Spike Lee and his creativity separated him from a lot of the filmmakers during the ’80s; he was a huge part of a new wave outlook on black filmmaking and was one of few directors to survive the new black film wave. “For the mainstream industry and theatres, Lee is one of a handful of directors to survive the “new black film wave” on his own commercial and creative terms. By industry standards, Lee has kept busy making at least one commercial feature film a year”(Guerrero).

Spike Lee had many great and influential films but one that stands out is his 1989 film“Do The Right Thing.” In this movie, one importance was how he showed the lack of empathy people have towards black people. “Racism is seen not as a knee-jerk response to skin color, but as a failure of empathy–a failure of the ability to imagine the other person’s point of view”(Ebert). This is a quote explaining a key part of this movie which was the lack of understanding people had towards black people. A great example of this in the movie is when Sal the pizza restaurant owner’s son Pino asks to talk with him and says he wants to get him to sell the pizzeria and when his dad asks why Pino says “I’m sick of N-words” his dad said “why you got so much anger in you”(Lee). His dad said he never has had any problems with black people. This perfectly shows a lack of empathy people have towards black people. From the beginning of the movie, Pino was rude towards black people for no reason, even his co-worker Mookie. 

Something super unique about this film that made it so impactful was how he presented black people in the movie; this was very different from how black people were represented in other movies at the time “In “Do The Right Thing”, black people are not presented in the traditional binary of subservient and smiling, or violent and dangerous, but rather can exist as more rounded expressions of themselves”(Valley). Spike Lee went beyond stereotypes of black Americans in the film industry which went on to influence many people across the filmmaking industry. 

One other super important part of why this movie was so influential was when one of the black characters went to eat at the famous pizza spot everyone from the neighborhood goes to; he’s annoyed when he notices there’s a “Wall of Fame” with only Italians and white Americans, he confronts the owner and says “how come you ain’t got no brother up on the wall” it gets heated. In the end, he tries to boycott this pizza spot with one of the other characters named Radio Raheem who carries a radio that plays the iconic song “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy. It ended in a big fight where the police got involved and were very violent towards the black people and choked Radio Raheem and killed him and it escalated into a big riot in the street and looting in the pizza place (Lee). This all showed very clearly how the police acted towards certain people they showed up and immediately went arresting the black people and started choking Raheem knowing he couldn’t breathe. One thing that’s important about how impactful something is whether or not it stays relevant; this scene is very clearly relevant today. Just last year a police officer stood on a black man’s neck choking him to death which led to people rioting and looting. 





Guerrero, Ed. ACMI, Dec 2016,

It was formatted very professionally with all the information you need to cite it at the top of the page. It had good information about Spike Lee’s life and His inspiration. It also talked about all of his movies and gave a brief explanation on the movie. This was all very helpful towards answering my EQ.

Valley, Dylan., Aug 2016,

It gave a great description on Spike Lee’s movie “Do The Right Thing” and the overall

meaning of the movie. It talked about the influence the movie had on filmmaking in

general but more specifically black filmmaking and why it was so important. It also talks

about the relevancy the movie has into today’s world which was very important to help answer my EQ.

Do the right thing. Directed by Spike Lee, Universal Pictures, 1989

This source was one of Spike Lee’s most known and most impactful movies. I knew this was a good source because it’s one of his movies. This really helped answering my EQ because I was able to see his impact and why this movie is so important today for my own eyes. I was able to get my own opinions on the movie and my own opinions on why this was such an influential movie. 

Roger Ebert, May 1991,

This source helped answer a question I had towards the beginning when it was mentioned

in one of the other sources which was what was “the new black film wave” and how did Spike Lee survive it. It also gave good information on how important some of his films were. I knew it was a good source because it was very unbiased and the author was even a film critic and it was published in 1991.

A&E Television Networks, Feb 2016,

This was a great source about his earlier life which was a big help when writing the

who,what,where,when part of the synthesis. It also talked about some of his important

movies and the success of them and had some information that wasn’t in the other sources. I knew it was a good source because it’s a very popular website and had a section specifically for citation information which was very helpful.