“Wag the Dog”

Last week in class we watched the movie “Wag the Dog.” I must admit that I was not crazy about the idea because the majority of movies shown in class are fairly boring. However, this particular film was interesting to me and held my attention. I learned several different things from the movie and it helped open my eyes to what is really out there in the world of Public Relations.

Of the three basic value orientations I believe that the PR practitioner from Wag the Dog uses the existentalist orientation. He makes the decisions on the basis of “immediate practical choice.” He is definitely not a situationalist because he does not care how much harm comes about his decisions which is shown when he decides to lie about the Albania story by making viewers of the commercial think much worse was taking place in Albania then what was really happening. I also did not feel that he was an absolutist because he did not view every decision as right or wrong, black or white. His decisions were based on what was happening at the moment and what would get him out of trouble and make him look good.

The PR practitioner is very unethical. He lies to the public to try to get their vote to re-elect the president. He is not developing trust with the people because he is caught using an actress in the service announcement dealing with Albania. He hired a girl to act as though she was running over a burning bridge to escape harm while holding a white cat. The girl did not know that this was not a real acting job because they did not tell her nor did they tell the public it was an exaggeration.

I am really uncertain about the logic behind the phrase, Wag the Dog. I remember it being said in the beginning of the movie, “a dog wags its tail”. The dog is smarter than the dog’s tail obviously which means the dog is in charge of making the tail wag, not the tail in charge of making the dog wag. Maybe the tail represents the public and the PR Practitioners are represented by the dog. The PR Practitioneres are trying to outsmart the public by giving false stories and hoping they believe them; however the public catches on and does not let the dog “wag the tail.”

This movie gives PR Practitioners a bad name. I feel that they were portrayed as unethical. They lied throughout the entire movie and really gave PR Practitioners a bad name. I never want to be looked at as a liar or unethical so I will do everything I can to make sure nothing but the truth is told and that everyone is treated fairly and in an ethical manner.


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