In the course of a not altogether flattering Guardian piece on the state of British movie comedy, Geoffrey Wheatcroft resurrects the concept of “flattire,” a useful word originally coined by the critic, Philip French:
[Flattire] meant films which are ostensibly satirical but which really flatter the audience by ingratiatingly reinforcing all their prejudices. One of the direst had “American” in its title but was by a British director. The venerable Pauline Kael was still alive when American Beauty came out, to ask sharply why the middle-class liberals who were drooling over this tripe couldn’t recognise the way it sucked up to them, with its catalogue of cliches and every punch telegraphed.
As I read those words, I started thinking about Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and who knows how much of SNL. Can’t think why.