Wag the Dog : A Study on Film and Reality is a book that explores the evolving relation between cinema and reality through the close study of Barry Levinson’s film Wag the Dog (New Line Cinema, 1997). Eleftheria Thanouli maintains a dual focus throughout this monograph; she analyzes Wag the Dog as a case study and also the cinema/reality interplay that is reflected in and reflects upon the film.
According to Thanouli, Wag the Dog allows us to reconsider the ways in which art imitates life and vice-versa. The film tells the story of an
American president who stages a fake war against a distant foreign country to keep public attention away from his sexual life. Released in the theatres a
few weeks before the outbreak of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the press, the film accidentally reduced the distance between reality and fiction. The real
life occurrences, namely President Clinton’s sexual affair with a White House intern and his subsequent attacks against foreign distant targets, seemed
outright inspired by the movie plot, causing the film to become a popular entry in the political and cultural dictionary worldwide.