WtD- Wag the Dog


1. Who is the dog being wagged? Who is the target of the political and media manipulation by Conrad, Winnie and Stanley?

The target of the manipulation are the american electors. They want to distract the voters from the president’s sex scandal to save his re-election. So they are the dog being wagged are the voters because when the tail is wagging the dog, he’s manipulating  the dog.

2. “Change the story, change the lead.”

That statement of Brean means that he has to create a story which distract the people from the sex scandal. He has to find a story which is more interesting then the sex scandal of the president. Thus the people have a new lead and talk about the new story. In this case Brean uses an Albanian war as the new story to talk about.

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The film poster shows the flag of the United States of America in the center. The backround is yellow. Above the flag, there are the names of the chief characters. Under the flag you can see the film title and other informations.

The stripes of the flag dissolves into film reels. The story of wag the dog fits to the poster because in the film Mr. Brean and Mr. Motss produce a “war” to distract the public from another scandal. The poster involves this with the flag, which should portay the american public, that ends in film reels, which portay the produced war. That signifies that the public is involved in the film. The public is influenced by the produced war and so their interest are focused on it.

Scene # Content Comment
1 Expression Wag the Dog (00-00:43)MRS B`S SOLUTION !!!! “Why does the dog wag its tail? Because it`s smarter than the tail. If the tail wagged the dog, it would mean that the tail would be smarter than the dog.”
  • viewer doesn`t yet know what the quotation actually refers to
  • as the action obviously deals with politics, it remains to be seen who is going to wag the dog and what effect this is going to produce
2 Commercial (0:44-1:11)MRS B`S SOLUTION Two jockeys exchanging their ideas that it`s not wise to “change horses in midstream” thereby supporting the idea of re-electing the current president.
  • the spot seems strangely old-fashioned with unflattering close-up shots and a deliverance of lines that lacks conviction
  • the viewer might wonder whether the PR firm responsible has really done a good job
3 Mr Fix It  (01:12-8:36) The assistant of the White House calls Mr.Brean “Mr Fix it” as he arrived at the White House.
  • She hopes that Mr. Brean can avoid the consequences of the president’s sex scandal.
  • He should “fix” the situation.
4 Landing in Chicago    (08:37-11:06) can’t remember the scene
5 Meeting a Hollywood Producer (11:07-17:13) Mr. Motss is lying under a sunbed. He looks like a fashion victim. They talk about the producing of the war  and how they can present it in the most reliable way.
  • the viewer might be shoked of the enthuasiastic way they plan the producing
  • they call the war a pageant because it sounds less bad.

-> Euphemism

6 Working on the war with Albania  (17:14-21:16) They search for a state, which is unknown, to have a scapegoat.
  • don’t think about consequences for Albania
  • the viewer might be shoked because they use a globus to search a state. It’s like a play.
7 Think tank (21:17-21:16)
8 The War starts (27:51: 35:01) They create a short film of an “Albainian girl” in a blue box. That film should inform the people about the war. Tracy sworn to silence, which is a part of her contract. If she didn’t oblige they would kill her.
  • They add burning houses, fire and screaming.
  • The scene underlines the teams’ recklessness.

merely(adv),mere(adj) – just,only

9-10 The strategy worked (35:02- 43:11) The people believed
11 War Song /CIA interferes /Neall “ends” the war (43:12-48:11)


On the backdrop of the video clip you just saw, please explain the following quotes.

1. “You want me to produce a war?” Not a war, it`s a pageant. […] It`s like the Oscars.”

Brean uses Euphemism, to convince the producer to help him. He compares his plan with the Oscars, because it sounds less shocking. He tries to tone it down, which reactions the “pageant” will cause.

2. They want to destroy our way of life.  […] We just found out we have the bomb. […] It`s a suitcase bomb…”

In my opinion they just surch for ideas to produce the war as riliable as possible. I think they are just creative, like they would do when they produce a film. They surch for a group or a state, which causes the war. That seems very inmorally and shocking, because it’s dangerous for the state, to be the “guilty one”. From a normal citizen’s point of view it’s a scandal that they want destroy their way of life because that’s something they can’t change. They can’t be awared of a suitcase bomb. They have to trust in the government and the police who make controls. They are delivered to their destiny.


3. “When it`s cooking, it`s cooking.”

Motss seems pleased with himself because he is crative and can start the “war”.    It   will run after his start. He just has to create a reliable situation to get the attention of the public. From my point of view he hasn’t to be pleased with  himself because he “lies” to the public. He creates a war and has to know what consequences that will have. The public will be shocked, hysterical and afraid. To play with the emotions of the people isn’t something you can be pleased with.

1.The scene starts out with a close-up shot on a fridge / freezer / ironing board / vaccum cleaner (Hoover).

2. The action is set in the basement of the White House / of 10 Downing Street / at a PR agency .

3. Prior to entering the White House Brean has to say hello to the president / have tea with the first lady / pass the security check / have his eye-sight checked.

4. The Firefly girl story will be published on TWITTER right away / in the Washington Post on the next day / in the New York Times in 11 days / on the CNN evening news.

5. The president is currently in Indonesia / Japan / China / Malaysia because of trade relations / disarmament / charity organisations he is in charge of / environmental issues.

6. In Brean`s opinion the president shouldn`t come back that day because the trip is too strenuous / he shouldn`t face the American public at that point of time / his wife wants a divorce and welcomes her husband staying abroad for as long as possible.

7. At the meeting Brean makes sure that nobody reveals any secret information by saying “If it gets out, I`ll hurt you.” / If it gets out, the President will be very sad.” / “If it gets out, you leaked it.” / “If it gets out, the CIA will be after you and your family.”

8. Brean`s plan involves an imaginary B3 missile / tank / bomber / supercar.

9. Brean seems to be an honest person / a ruthless person / a shy person / an amiable person.

10. The rest of the team listen but also question many of Brean`s points / listen attentively and do what the are told / listen and comply with some of Brean`s suggestions / are against all of Brean`s suggestions.

Please watch the trailer to get an overview of what the film is about.  Make a list with the topics the film deals with and comment on this collection by using   to express (lack of) interest or a neutral attitude.

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  • a political scandal 11 days in advance of the election

i find it interesting. It’s something you are entertained by.

  • spin doctor has an idea

he uses a new scandal to draw the voters attetion on another theme

  • produce a war

I think it’s funny for the watchers but i feel sorry for the people who believe in it.

  • hollywoods top producer

the top producer can do it the best way and very guliable.

  • the producing

very professional and interesting to watch. You can look how he uses, as an example the camera terms, to make it more guliable

Most interesting scene: