What are the comparisons between 1984 and the movie "Wag the Dog?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one significant point of similarity between Orwell's work and Levinson's film is the development of war as "the health of the state."  Both works understand war as a way to maintain control and silence dissent amongst their respective body politics.  In Orwell's dystopic vision, the government of Oceania is in perpetual war to ensure that there is complete obedience and submission to the state.  In Levinson's black comedy, if the public is distracted with a war there is a greater chance they will not scrutinize the actions of the President, thereby ensuring that the "tail can wag the dog."  Another similarity between both is that war is used to not only silence public dissent but substantiate existing Status Quos.  Both forms of government face fundamental challenges from its people if war is not evident.  Big Brother would face stiff resistance from the citizens if it is not able to scare them into submission with the notion of war.  At the same time, Conrad Brean understands that the construction of a war will guarantee his President a second term as it would be unwise "to change horses midstream."  In both works, war is seen as a needed element to continue the Status Quo and justify its existence.

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