Is that…God on the radio?

While we’ve pointed to a group of characters who function as panopticons, Lee’s composition of the shots Love Daddy is in and his speech put the character in a very different place than Mother-Sister, or even the police. He seems to be 1 part God, 1 part Spike Lee, and 8 parts funny as hell.

Do The Right Thing Screenshot 4-24

(Taken at 4:24)

From the very beginning of the film’s plot-line, DJ Love Daddy is there. His name hints towards an affectionate and humorous nickname for God. In the black Christian tradition as I understand it, God is often referred to The Father. He is also an unlimited font of love. Depending on whether or not one takes a deterministic view of God’s role human life, he either orchestrates all happenings on earth, or is the one who set it all in motion. DJ Love Daddy is a fitting name.

The plot-line opens with him holding an alarm clock and announcing himself as “Mr. Señor Love Daddy.” The very first thing he says–in fact, the very first spoken line of the movie–is “wake up.” In this moment, he is not a human being. We only see his hand, his mouth, and a microphone. He is not yet a radio station host. He speaks to us. The playfulness and gentle insistence of his wake-up call mimics a parent waking up a young child for school.

One line in his opening stands out: “The last on your dial, but first in your hearts” (4:41). This line possesses the kind of playful cathartic humor that I often see among people of color, especially when talking about the world we live in. The first clause both foreshadows the events at the end of the movie and is the fulcrum of humor. The message here, as Lee points out, is that love is key.


Author: Heru Craig

オレは哲学者王になる男だ! I am the man who will become philosopher king! In every field, there is a champion who stands at the top. The title of the world's greatest is one that can only be awarded by the collective will of ordinary people. My mission in life is to show the world that all people are worthy of being called philosophers. In the process, I will prove myself to be my generation's greatest philosopher--and, one day, the world's greatest. All of my work will remain free to access online. I hope that I can earn your support ( as I develop my abilities.

3 thoughts on “Is that…God on the radio?”

  1. Hey Heru, I was rewatching the end to School Daze last night and I couldn’t help but notice a similarity between the ending of School Daze and the beginning of Do The Right Thing which you describe so elegantly in your post. School Daze ends with Dap repeatedly telling everyone to wake up. During the final shot, Dap and Julien break the fourth wall, look right into the camera and calmly ask the audience to “please, wake up.” This shot is freeze-framed and then the non-diegetic sound of an alarm clock begins to ring.

    Lee followed School Daze with the release of Do The Right Thing in 1988. Excluding the opening sequence featuring Rosie Perez, the film essentially begins with an alarm clock ringing and DJ Daddy Love announcing to the neighborhood that they need to “Wake up!” Daddy Love goes on to repeat the phrase multiple times, just like Dap.

    Do you think there is a connection between these two films that Lee is trying to point out? Or do you think Lee just coincidentally uses this phrase as a way to urge characters and audience members to “wake up” and begin to take notice in what is going on around them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Thomas! Don’t want you to think I’m ignoring your comment. I’m working on a draft of a post that I think incorporates a response to that.



  2. Heru, I agree with your observation that DJ Love Daddy functions as Spike’s own voice throughout the film, guiding the audience’s perception of the plot as it unfolds. In his comment, Thomas G. draws parallels between Do the Right Thing and School Daze and I think that that’s absolutely spot on, analytically. Just as School Daze ended with an exhortation that broke the 4th wall (“wake up”), I think that it is telling that the last thing DJ Love Daddy tells us in Do the Right Thing is to “chill.” Could Lee’s message to us be encoded in that final line?

    Liked by 1 person

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