Movie Satire Loses Specificity, Gains Appeal

Satire is hot right now, but the biting political send-ups that have made Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert millionaires seem to lose some of their specificity when Hollywood translates the idea to film. Caryn James says there’s a good reason for that: “Political satires on screen may be most successful when they don’t aim at specific politicians at all… At their shrewdest, movies like American Dreamz and Thank You for Smoking follow the lead of Wag the Dog. They don’t attack individual politicians or entertainers (not even Simon); they are really satirizing how all those scoundrels in Washington and Hollywood talk down to us.”