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"Wag the Dog" 1997 Film Analysis

Paper type: Analysis
Pages: 5 (1165 words)
Categories: Dog
Downloads: 50
Views: 7

“Wag the Dog” is one of the great American political satires which is a Barry Levinson film released in 1997. It is about a president suddenly buried deep in sex scandal just days before he was almost certain to be re-elected, and the efforts of his staff to divert America’s attention away from the scandal with the help of a professional spin doctor and a Hollywood producer. In the film both Hollywood and the President play a significant role, despite the fact that the president is represented by his ” staff “.

?h? completely fake war, written and produced by a top Hollywood producer and a presidential Mr. Fix-It does have a serious message to impart – Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Parents tell their kids that the man on TV isn’t really dead, it’s all fake, and we all know that movies and dramas aren’t real, they’re written and acted.

We watch documentaries and biographies and absorb the information as the truth. When we watch the news at 7:00 pm every evening, and read the paper over coffee and breakfast, we believe everything reported. And why shouldn’t we? Isn’t it our right to know what’s going on in the world and to not have the struggle of trying to separate fact from fiction? Unfortunately, we may think this is our right, but we do have to take a more critical look at the information departed from the media.

In the movie the war is created when allegations of sexual misconduct are directed at the president 11 days before the election. Conrad Bean (Robert De Niro) is called on by the President’s staff to take the heat off of the President. He comes up with the brilliant idea to create a false war with Albania. “Why Albania?” “Well, what do you know about Albania?” “Nothing.” “Exactly.” It is all about ignorance. He chose Albania just because he doesn’t know anything about it. He hires top movie producer Stanley Motts (Dustin Hoffman) to help him with the story and details and to use the endless amount of visual tricks available to them. They create a short grainy news footage piece of a young girl running from her village holding a kitten. She is in fact an actor and running through an empty studio. This kitten, village, and sound effects of screaming and sirens are added in later. This piece is played on the evening news and touches the heart of millions of Americans and creates a virtual reality. The production team also invents Special Forces unit 303, some of whom got stuck behind enemy lines, a soldier named Schumacher is chosen to be the American war hero for that purpose, nicknamed “Old Shoe”. These images appropriate reality so closely that it is impossible to differentiate between fact and fiction. The film in fact mirrors reality. People innocently trust what they are seeing because it is on the news. The news is not supposed to be fiction, it is supposed to be an accurate, objective view of what is happening in the world around us. It is not supposed to be made up to influence such things as who we decide to vote for.

The presidential sex scandal at the core of the film, appeared to be just as a real sex scandal and it was becoming major news. This gave the plot added appeal for the audience and made the plot of the film seem even more real, a plot which suggested a blurring of the division between illusion and reality in the media. It is interesting to note that after the video was shown, many newspapers didn’t even have mention of the Firefly girl that accused the President of sexual misconduct. The President himself is presented as a trivial and vague figure, a product’ that is sold’ to the general population. The slyest comical element of the film is the fact that the president is entirely irrelevant, aside from jeopardizing the reelection aspirations of his party. He is only shown from the back, and only ever appears to deliver a speech previously prepared by a Hollywood producer or making useless suggestions, such as a white cat for a war commercial, instead of calico. His structured absence avoids naming the president. His name actually is not presented to us. The film criticizes our modern politicians rather than praising them.

Another thing to take into account is the stage with the spokesman which represents another postmodern image which is the real-fake. In fact the spokesman is real in the eyes of the audience but not for the president’s spin doctor who can manipulate everything he says. He is simultaneously real and fake.

What about the title of the movie which is taken from a joke: “Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail was smarter, the tail would wag the dog.” As usual, there are various interpretations as to what it means. Some people suggest that the dog symbolizes public opinion, and that the tail represents the media; others suggest that the dog is the people and that the tail is the government.. But the most likely opinion is that the dog is the media, and the tail is the government.

The power of the media is such that even though we think we can trust everything we hear or read, we have to view it objectively and not absorb the opinions professed as our own. These opinions are often subtlety mentioned to influence us and our opinions. However, one positive message does emerge from the skepticism of this story. The film is at least a demonstration of the increasing number of people who cease to fall for the selfish manipulations of the politicians, their consultants and the media, and increases the audience’s awareness of the propaganda in the future.

The media already influence us and our opinions too much already. For instance, our opinions on what the ideal is for beauty. The media constantly portray the beauty of women being in their non existent weight. If you actually look at most of the models on the runway, you’d be thinking “What is that”!! But because they wear a size -3, they are considered beautiful. It’s the same with men. The bigger the muscles, the better looking they are supposed to be. It’s ridiculous, but, again, it’s the subtle influence of the media on our opinions. Many people look through magazines and say to themselves, I can’t look like that! I can’t lose that much weight or gain that much muscle.

Political and media manipulation is central to the theme of “Wag the Dog”. While the media serves a social function by presenting news, information and entertainment to the public, it also has the power to persuade.” Wag the Dog” shows that news stories are a construction of reality, not reality itself. It shows that we can’t take what the media tells us for granted.

Cite this essay

“Wag the Dog” 1997 Film Analysis. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/wag-the-dog-1997-film-analysis-essay

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