Hi everyone! You know, I actually liked re-watching Wag the Dog...and to be honest, I think I saw it in the theater in the 90s...so that gives you an idea of how old I am! I also feel like this movie has a parallel to a lot of aspects in American history, but I will get back to that in a second.
I think the director was trying to relay a message that maybe politics and media should not be allowed mix, because in our era, the effects can be diabolical. Also, it seems the director is making a commentary on the fact that politicians will go to extraordinary measures to cover up scandals. In fact, no one in the story even seems to take the concept of the moral compass into consideration.
The film makes all politicians look like opportunistic scumbags who will will take every possible chance to exploit a situation. Also, the film makes film directors seem like people capable of performing miracles, but then wanting their due credit even at risk of peril. So, while the film does not necessarily tackle the concept of race, it does look at professions and certain aspects of society.
The movie provided strong visual examples of the amount of work that goes into media production, even when it is behind the scenes. The best example, to me, was the fake funeral for "old shoe." It was given the television impression of being real, but was a complete facade. It also reminded me of how in the 1990s, people would fly places and make actual phone calls. I liked visually seeing actual cell phones! Also, it felt like a period piece - in that the clothing and haircuts reminded me of an entire decade.
I feel like the director used a lot of thematically staged scenes to build plot points. We see people flying in the plane and everything looking very executive, and at the same time, their actions reflect that on screen - so it feels like the set is sometimes driving the acting. The direct also uses extremely dark humor to emphasis aspects of the movie. For example, Robert De Niro's character sort of jokes with Dustin Hoffman's character that talking about the whole process of the deception will result in his death. In the end, that is exactly what happens, even though he simply talks about trying to take credit, and doesn't have the chance to go through with it.
Personally, I feel like this movie is a good analogy to a lot of the political theater in the United States. Candidates are always trying to get dirt on one another, and they are always trying to cover up their own. Often times, it feels like there is a distraction that somehow is meant to take attention away from the issue at hand. While I'm not trying to be a conspiracy theorists, I can see how people can believe in things like "false flag" operations. I will leave you to come up with your own parallels, but it is not that hard to see how this movie might related somewhat to the events of the last decade or so. I highly recommend this movie, as it is quite relevant today, and is entertaining even without that aspect.