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Film Festival - Wag The Dog

Wednesday - December 10, 2003
MAC Playhouse - 3:30 pm - 6:15 pm

Wag The Dog

Hostsed by: Dr. Robert Singer, Professor of English
College Now English Course Coordinator
Professor Sam Taitt, College Now Communications Course Coordinator

About the Movie: Wag The Dog
Director, Barry Levinson 1999 - Rating R
A Hollywood producer meets a Washington spin-doctor. When they get together, they can make you believe anything. After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisors contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through the manipulation of the mass media.

About the Presenter: Professor Sam Taitt
Professor Sam Taitt is a communications specialist who has been a faculty member in the Communications Department at Kingsborough Community College for the past 9 years. Formerly he was CEO and General Manager of CBC TV & Radio in Barbados, West Indies, and has completed several assignments as a media consultant in Africa, China, South and Central America, Canada, and throughout the Caribbean. He has been a consultant in several political campaigns in the Caribbean and here in New York. These assignments have included setting up a radio station, advising on TV and radio programming and producing TV documentaries.

Sample ACT Essay

Extra Credit Assignments
We depend on the various mass media for information about events in and outside of the United States. This information influences, and often shapes our view of our country and of the world, and helps us determine our position on issues that affect us, or those around us. The media indeed shapes our reality. While accusations of bias are often leveled at the print media, TV stands above the fray. Its unique ability to provide graphic supporting images contributes to its near invincibility as the most credible mass medium for news.

Does Wag The Dog suggest chinks in TV's credibility armor? Is the deception as evidenced in the film only likely to occur in the "movies?" If the answer is no, would TV be the dog that is wagged, or the tail that wags the dog? Write an essay of approximately 400-500 words on the issue of "Deception in the Media." The essay should discuss the questions raised in the above paragraph, relate them to the issues listed below and compare some of the issues to any situation, past or current, in the American experience that was media-influenced.

*Political campaign strategy - Comment on how the usual strategies of "attack your opponent" or "defend your candidate's record" were, or were not, used in the film. Explain the phrase, "Don't change horses in mid-stream."
* Importance of the Timeline
* Use of Technology
Role of the Mass Media - Were the media experts duped, or were they compliant disseminators of news fed to them. Did they jump at the opportunity for sensationalism?
* Wag the Dog - Discuss the involvement that TV and public relations media played in the film.

Mini-Research Project

Utilizing the library and its resources, and/or material from the Internet, prepare an investigative project that focuses on any of the following topics associated with or suggested by the film Wag The Dog:
a) the (first) Gulf war
b) the existing Iraq war
c) the advertising industry
d) the Bill Clinton situation
e) propaganda films

Standard College Essay

Many issues arise from the analysis and discussion of the film Wag The Dog. Some of these issues involve the power of the media in American culture to affect our values, the belief in "objective" reportage, censorship of news and information, and in general, the rationalizations society makes for going/not going to war. In a full-length essay (approximately 400-500 words), later to be revised for content and correctness, discuss any of the issues raised in the film Wag The Dog that you consider to be of special interest either for yourself or for society. Explain why and how the issues are significant not only in the film but also in relationship to your life, the American experience, or both. You may also refer to past or present historical experiences as presented in any form of media coverage or other opinions.

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