I was reminded over the weekend that too much heat in the Big Apple can cause some people -- myself included -- to be very snappy. Even more than is usual for New York City. Fortunately, I didn't get so hot and bothered that I spouted any racial slurs or anything as equally hateful as the stuff rattled off in the infamous fourth-wall-breaking epithet montage from Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. But I can say that the weather made me less tolerant of strangers and more argumentative with friends than I prefer to be.
In highlighting this as a loved sequence, I definitely do not mean to condone or encourage any of the name calling and stereotyping found in any of the individual soliloquies -- in fact, fittingly I both love and hate the sequence. I mainly feature it as a memorably tense moment in a film that is necessary summer viewing (though perhaps not if your AC is broken). No movie better captures how miserable a hot and humid day in NYC can be, from the red hues and bleached out whites of the cinematography to the glistening, sweaty faces of the characters to the familiar cool-off activities like playing in hydrant water (with passersby getting soaked when not taking proper cover).
However, it's the anger that arises from the combination of the summertime temperatures and the already mounting social hostilities on the film's Bed-Stuy block that I am primarily reminded of while walking through Brooklyn lately. People are more on edge, and like in the film it's not necessarily racially concerned confrontations that occur at any given corner, or in any AC-lacking subway car.
This month marks the 21st anniversary of Lee's landmark film and though much has improved in the city in that time regarding crime, the police, racial tensions and NYC's reputation for anger, it only takes a 90-something-degree day to show how much the summertime can still bring out the worst in New Yorkers. Check out the NSFW montage, which features extremely bad language -- curse and slur words abound -- below: