Brean and companion Winifred Ames (played by Anne Heche) concoct the idea to create a war by hiring a bigtime Hollywood producer, Stanley Motts (played by Hoffman), to script and direct the war. The war, however, will not exist in any sense, but is shot on a green screen with actors and the latest CGI effects to create an emotional propaganda effect. One of the best scenes is the production of the fake young Albanian girl (played by Kristen Dunst) carrying a bag of Tostito’s (since they can’t find a kitten). A Calico cat is then added, with bombings and gunshots superimposed in the background. While one might balk at such an idea, allow me to remind you that the film is basically a composite of the last twenty years of propaganda and political machinations. Presidential sex scandals and elections are really about inside shadow government workings, and much of the war and terror propaganda is just that – propaganda. The events and narratives are literally scripted, as they are in the film. Thus enters the metapropaganda aspect.
Throughout the film, genius screenwriter David Mamet drops countless hints as to what is really going on. We see the characters making insightful comments such as follows:
“It’s all a pageant.”
“They want to destroy our way of life.”
‘We just found out they have the bomb. It’s a suitcase bomb.”
“The Albanian terrorists have placed a suitcase bomb in Canada.”
“Nuclear terrorism is the future.”
Following the exchange between Brean and Motts, a crew of actors and celebrities are brought in to promote the war, including Willie Nelson, who conducts a hilarious, racially-integrated “We Are The World” style song (“The American Dream”) geared towards promoting the war as the defense of “American freedom” and “democracy.” Can anyone say, “Toby Keith”? They even sell merchandise for the war.
Apparently several of the genius commenters at Youtube fail to realize this is satire. As Motts scripts the events, he jokes that the “First Act” will be the Albanian response: “They deny everything.” This brings to mind the famous Kissinger clip prior to the invasion of Libya during the Egyptian unrest, that it was the first act of a play. The film is therefore genius in its presentation of dark satire and the scripted nature of reality, and I think functions on an even deeper level as meta-propaganda. The viewer is being shown how the propaganda is created, while simultaneously functioning in the world where this is exactly how the propaganda is created. In other words, the film is fiction, but is true, leaving the viewer with the idea that truth is fiction, and fiction is truth, subconsciously. This is precisely the best form of manipulation because it is so subtle and functions on so many levels. It is also not overly complex, though it may give the impression of being “deep.” On the contrary, the truth is very simple: the establishment creates a false reality everyone believes, by placing that false reality in fiction, that then becomes reality. This is what my thesis was on: look around you and see that it works. Consider, too, this excellent video showing the Wag the Dog process: