February 4, 2013 1 Comment
A Brilliant Revelation of the Method
Wag the Dog (1997) is one of those 90s movies you somehow missed. I don’t know how I did, but I recently came across it looking for something along the lines of propaganda and psychological warfare in film, and boy was I in for a treat. Wag the Dog is dark satire and is far more than I expected it to be. The film is about private intelligence consultants/marketing experts creating a fake war as a distraction during a presidential candidate’s re-election that is racked by scandal.
Robert deNiro plays Conrad Brean, “Mr. Fix It,” the intelligence/media manipulator hired to create a big distraction that ends up being a fake war with “Albanian fundamentalist terrorists.” There are several people this might be, and it could also be a composite, but given his hat and appearance, E. Howard Hunt immediately comes to mind, though the timing is off.
While most analyses of the film would focus on the film’s narrative itself as an expose, which is true as far as it goes, I”d like to take a step back and point out that it is more than that. It’s an example of what I’d call meta-propaganda, in the sense that metanarrative in the study of Shakespeare involves a story about the process of writing a story, so with Wag the Dog we have an example of meta-propaganda. The film is itself propaganda about the process of making propaganda. This is the secret power and effect of predictive programming: hoodwinking a unknowing mass populace into accepting a manipulation of archetypes and emotional images that produce a desired effect. The chief medium of this craftworking is film and news. Read more of this post