Wag The Dog Analysis
‘Did he bend your reflection?
Did he make you forget your own name?
Did he convince you he was a God?
Did you get on your knees daily?
Do his eyes close like doors?
Are you a slave to the back of his head?’ – Warsan Shire, 2016
Directed by Barry Levinson, ‘Wag the Dog’ is a black comedy exploring the widespread consequences of mass manipulation as orchestrated by spin doctor Brean and Hollywood producer Motss, in order to protect the repute of the President in the imminent elections. While the misrepresentation of reality does not always have observable consequences, there are severe effects in the long term. As Shire expresses, Brean and Motss ‘bend …show more content…
At the height of American authority, the truth is disfigured in the form of a faux war in Albania to win the President’s election. No one is placed responsible for the disgraceful crime committed to this underage girl who will no doubt endure the long term psychological repercussions. She will survive the hideous trauma of having her assault washed over for the sake of politics, nothing acknowledged. Furthermore, when reality reappears in the form of the CIA proclaiming the war over and the girl’s abuse rightfully comes to the forefront again, Brean and Motss decide to prolong the production. The girl is treated as an inconvenience, her case degraded to ‘Mr Fix Up’ with astonishing amorality. They set the standard for dishonesty in the political system with virtually no accountability, despite the CIA’s interference. Released shortly before the Lewinsky scandal in 1998, the fictional President’s deeds eerily echo this real life incident. Like Lewinsky, the Firefly girl is regarded secondary to those in the political sphere’s standing. Like Bill Clinton, the unnamed President is granted his term in office without any retribution for his sexual misconduct. Hence, the distortion of reality marginalises justice for the Firefly girl, her expense foregone for the profit of the …show more content…
Through the course of the film, the men lose clarity, deciding to ‘resolve’ the hurdle posed by the CIA by positioning a mentally ill Army prison convict on the front of their campaign. They embellish his past to that of a war hero, preparing a military funeral when he is shot by a farmer for attempted rape of his daughter. Notably, Motss consistently loses reality, living in his own fantasy of a film production. Undeniably, he dismisses each problem that arises as ‘nothing’, comparing them to past film making endeavours. His altered reality ultimately leads to his death, arranged by Brean as a heart attack when Motss threatens to reveal his part in the war production. His failure to perceive the production as the blunt ploy to revive the President’s candidacy it is proves fatal. Ultimately, the propaganda is utterly worthless, employed to maintain an immoral leader. A nation is lied to, artifice is spun with no one the wiser or at least that is what Brean aspires to. The lie dehumanises America’s people, reducing a nation to believe what is spoken by its authority and manipulating them for personal power and benefit. In addition, the film demonstrates how the people are gullible to such manipulation, not only accepting the reality presented to them but embracing it by singing songs celebrating the war heroes of the fake war.