Do the Right Thing opening credits inspiration: Spike Lee reveals on Kickstarter that he was inspired by Bye Bye Birdie.

The Surprisign Inspiration for the Opening Credits of Do the Right Thing, Revealed!

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 12 2013 5:19 PM

The Credits That Inspired Do the Right Thing

Perhaps responding to criticism of his Kickstarter, Spike Lee has been amping up his project over the last few weeks, engaging with his fans on a new level. A couple weeks ago he shared his list of essential films, and today he shared with his backers an open letter, addressed to his daughter and son, about how he became a filmmaker.

For Lee fans the letter is worth reading in full for a number of reasons, but the greatest detail to come out of it is this: Those iconic opening credits of Do the Right Thing, with Rosie Pérez dancing in boxing trunks to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”?

They were inspired by the opening credits of Bye Bye Birdie:

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I’ll let Spike have the last word:

Let’s think about that for a second. A 6 year old Black Kid from Brooklyn is being dragged to Radio City Hall by his Mother to see some dumb movie (I thought that at the time) and it had such an impact it reappeared 25 years later out of nowhere from my distant memories. I don’t know about you but I think that is some POWERFUL SHIT.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate senior editor. He writes and edits for Slate’s culture blog, Brow Beat.

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