The story of Wag the Dog is dedicated to a widely debated topic, namely the problematic state of reality in a media saturated world. The proliferation of mass media and the repercussions of technological progress on the way people perceive the real world has increasingly preoccupied public discourse over the past few decades, especially when it comes to electoral politics.
This article examines the concept of authenticity in American politics through its construction and representation in fictional election campaigns in film and television.
Less than two weeks before Election Day, a scandal erupts that threatens to cripple the President bid for a second term. But before the incident can cause irreparable damage, a mysterious fixer is called to the White House. The ultimate spin doctor, Conrad Brean has the uncanny ability to manipulate politics, the press and most importantly the American people. Anticipating the reaction of a frenzies press corps, Brean deftly deflects attention from the President by creating a bigger and better story a war. With the help of Stanley Motss, a famed Hollywood producer and his irreverent entourage, Brean assembles an unlikely crisis team who orchestrate a global conflict unlike any ever seen on CNN. Directed by Barry Levinson
Director Barry Levinson talks with film critic and historian Joe Leydon about the satirical comedy "Wag the Dog" in this 1997 interview
Titus & Telly Davidson talk Wag The Dog, David Mamet & Barry Levinson's satire on media & politics in the 90s, the merger of Hollywood & D.C., of news & entertainment, the collapse of politics into rhetoric, & the corruption of elites.
“Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, the tail would wag the dog.”
Pearse Redmond joined me again to discuss the 1997 film Wag the Dog, a black comedy about a White House spin doctor and a Hollywood producer faking a war with Albania to cover up a presidential sex scandal. We dug beneath the comic overtones to find a much darker subtext, talking about the total absence of moral values in the film, how the tone of the movie develops from a very light beginning to a very dark ending, and how both of the two main characters are probably based on very real and very significant people.