Let us fake a war for distracting others and not to let the electors be influenced by my sex scandal. Is it impossible? It is not. Wag the Dog, a black comedy film by Barry Levinson from 1997 whose content sticks to Larry Beinhart’s novel American Hero, makes the spectators conscient about what media manipulation may lead to.
– “We cannot afford war.”(Winifred Ames alias Anne Heche )
– “But we can have the appearance of war.”( Stanley Motss alias Dustin Hoffman )
This excerpt of a dialogue between Ames (Anne Heche ) and Motss (Dustin Hoffman) shows the ruthless means being used in order to reach the purpose. In America, the presidential election is to hold in eleven days and a sexual allusion endangers the current’s canditature. Therefore, the Hollywood producer Conrad Brean ( Robert de Niro ) is hired and the ” War ” with Albania takes place. Significant efforts are made for the Americans to believe what is not really going on which succeeds, suprisingly. Manipulation on national level happens.
Benefiting from Dustin Hoffman’s and Robert de Niro’s and Anne Heche’s skills which are conveying/emphasizing absolutely well the partly total opposite characters, an identification with the previous is obvious. Apart from that, the camera mouvements and the music play also roles of importance since they are means of underlining certain attitudes and atmospheres. Within the film, the credibility is assured on the one hand by the actors, the technical elements and on the other hand the increase of tension, the use of (astroturfing- ) propaganda and the progress of the plot.
What is more, it is particulately apparent, that parts of the hoax are exaggerated and full of suspicion for instance the immediate songs that followed the information. Others like the plane-crush-scene are not shown in detail or more unrealistic decreasing the tension and the credibility.
Concluding from those positive and negative aspects, Wag the Dog is reccommendable and worth to see as it is highlighting media manipulation, its causes and consequences in a great extent.