' ' Cinema Romantico: We Name One Thing that Happened in Wag the Dog

Saturday, April 21, 2018

We Name One Thing that Happened in Wag the Dog

The Ringer’s Press Box podcast, hosted by Bryan Curtis and David Shoemaker, critiques all manner of media matters, and while those matters change week-to-week, one segment always remains the same  — that is, the overworked Twitter joke of the week. This bit stems from everyone rushing to Twitter in the wake of some minor to major event and making, consciously or not, a variation of the exact same joke. On this week’s episode, when the coverage of the recent bombing campaign of Syria was discussed, Curtis noted how many denizens of Twitter compared President Trump’s maneuver to the movie “Wag the Dog.” This was not featured in the Overworked Twitter Joke of the Week segment, but its theme was nevertheless the same. And Curtis took things one step further by asserting that most everyone making the reference was unfamiliar with “Wag the Dog” itself. “Everybody remembers the title, everybody remembers the concept, nobody remembers the movie,” Curtis said. Then he comically, rhetorically asked Shoemaker: “Name one thing that happened in that movie.” Shoemaker could not name one thing that happened in that movie.

Of course, Curtis (whose work, I should parenthetically make clear before going any further, I like very much), and the Press Box, enjoy poking fun at writers, or newscasters, or sportscasters, or whole entities that deign to just paint with the broadest brush, which is what the Overworked Twitter Joke of the Week is all about. And which is why Cinema Romantico could not just let Curtis’s painting with the broadest brush slide. This blog is an avowed fan of “Wag the Dog.” This blog considers it one of the best comedies of the last 25 years. This blog went to bat for Dustin Hoffman’s performance in a friend blog’s Essential Performances of the 90s Tournament several years ago for which we acted as part of the Selection Committee. This blog routinely thinks of Hoffman as Hollywood producer Stanley Motts sitting in the back of a combine harvester dismissing glum talk of their seemingly doomed task by declaring: “Try a ten A.M. pitch meeting, no sleep, coked-to-the-gills, and you haven’t even read the material. This? This is nothing.” This blog has written extensively on the “Wag the Dog” cameo of Kirsten Dunst, the first signal of that remarkable female actor’s inexorable comic genius.

As such, you want someone to name one thing that happened in that movie? You got it. Kirsten Dunst held a bag of Tostitos in front of a green screen in lieu of holding an actual calico kitten so that the kitten could be digitally “punched in” later. {Dusts off hands.}

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