“Wag The Dog”

We were given the task of analyzing the movie “Wag The Dog” from a PR perspective. I must admit, this movie was fairly interesting so I had to catch myself and be sure to view this movie as someone in the field and not simply as a consumer. This stance did change my outlook on the way the movie was perceived.

It would seem as if the PR character played by Robert DeNiro was an Existential. For those of you who do not know, an existential’s choices are not made in a prescribed value system. These choices are decided on the basis of immediate practical choice. (Public Relations Strategies and Tactics p. 73) DeNiro’s character was always making decisions seemingly on the cuff. Nothing was off limits to him and in order to reach his goal of reelecting the president, he pulled out all the stops i.e. the imaginary war with Albania.

In the matter of the PRSA Code of Ethics, there’s almost too much to recount. The big transgression in my eyes was the fact that this entire campaign was built on and around lies. We initially started with the president sleeping with a girl scout or something of that nature and ended with a war on terror and burying a slain hero (Old Shoe). The Free Flow of Information clause mandates that the information must be accurate and truthful. The information in this movie was neither of these things!

Now, I missed this third part about the logic behind the phrase “Wag the Dog”, but I am going to take a stab at it anyway. From what I can gather, a dog wags its tail because it is smarter than the tail. What that would mean in reverse is that the tail, which is this little insignificant piece, is actually greater than the whole. Dogs are big; tails are small. If you wave the big thing in front of people’s faces, they’ll overlook the insignificant tail that is immobile behind it. It’s a distraction if you will. Forget about the president sleeping with a minor, he’s a war-time president and he saw us safely through this calamity. TADA!

Some of the negative stereotypes confirmed in this movie are that PR practitioners are liars that will go to all lengths to ensure that their employers agenda is met. It also fuels the stereotype that these practitioners hold the world in the palm of their hand’s because of their willingness to be manipulative. This is quite unfortuanate because I know this isn’t true, but people believe what they see, which was clearly illustrated in the film.

Overall, I would say this was a good movie. It made me aware of the different biases that I will face as a PR practitioner and it has made me firmer in my resolve to enhance the credibility of this great profession.

Be Blessed, but more importantly, Be the Blessing!

-John Q.

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