Erika Brewington’s Blog

Wag The Dog

Last week in my PR class, we watched the movie Wag the Dog. I had never heard of this movie before and I really enjoyed watching it. The movie is based on a PR practitioner, played by Robert De Niro, who hires a famous Hollywood producer, played by Dustin Hoffman, to distract the American public from a sex scandal involving the president. De Niro hires Hoffman to create  false footage that makes the country believe a war that has broken out between the U.S. and Albania. De Niro does this hoping to create the image of a hero for the president and bring his ratings up just before re-election by getting the American public to focus on the “war.”

In this movie, the PR practitioner embodies the situational value orientation. This is evident throughout the movie, as he goes to every extent to make sure that the president’s image is kept clean. His decision to hire the producer, in his mind, was in light of what would cause the most good out of the situation. He believed that the ending result of his actions would be justified because the American public as a whole would be benefited.

According to the PRSA Code of Ethics, the PR practitioner was unethical in many ways. He was not a good advocate of the president because he did not act responsibly in his decision to hire a producer in order to make the public believe there was actually a war between the U.S. and Albania. He was also very dishonest, as he led everyone to believe something that was completely fabricated.

The logic behind the phrase Wag the Dog is mocking the fact that dog wags its tail because the dog is smarter…if the tail was smarter, it would wag the dog. This phrase is relevant to the situation in the movie because the PR practitioner represents the tail, and the American public represents the dog. Throughout the movie, the practitioner (the tail) is always one step ahead of the public (the dog). He continuously feeds the pubic false information and does everything in his power to steer the attention away from the sex scandal involving the president, and towards the idea that he is saving our country in a time of despair.

The negative stereotypes that this movie gives PR practitioners is that they are dishonest and will do anything to make the client look good to the public. It also gives the stereotype that PR practitioners can be a negative advocate to have because they will not always make decisions that are in your best interest and may act in an irresponsible way. The movie Wag the Dog is a prime example of why there is a PRSA Code of Ethics that must be followed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: