Revisiting The Boondocks in the Trump era

The comic strip turned TV show didn't just raise eyebrows, it raised blood pressure by poking aggressively at race relations

Revisiting The Boondocks in the Trump eraIt’s interesting how the smallest of events can sometimes trigger a significant flood of memories. That happened to me recently when my eyes gazed over a DVD box set of Season 1 of The Boondocks in a remainder bin. The Boondocks was based on Aaron McGruder’s controversial comic strip of the same name, which ran…

The subsidy table is set, and actors and writers will dine

The CRTC has backed away from a 21st-century funding model for the creation of Canadian content. We'll all be poorer as a result

The subsidy table is set, and actors and writers will dineThe leaders of Canada’s creative rebellion have emerged victorious after two years of struggle. That means consumers will almost certainly pay more for years to come for their much-loved Canadian television content. The news came just prior to the Labour Day weekend. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a decision confirming that it…

Is the CFL kicking off a new sports era with live on-field audio?

For as long as the lens has followed sports, broadcasters have denied fans the language, noise and strategy of the game – until now

Is the CFL kicking off a new sports era with live on-field audio?It’s the next frontier of TV sports broadcasting. Naturally, the Canadian Football League is leading the way. What? The CFL schooling all the big boys on cutting-edge audio technology? Yup. The final frontier of live broadcasting is going inside the audio of the game. Since TSN and the league gave it the go-ahead, we’ve had…

Mister Rogers’ well-lived life in the neighbourhood

A new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, examines the extraordinary life and career of Fred Rogers

Mister Rogers’ well-lived life in the neighbourhoodGrowing up in the 1970s, I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to some exceptional children’s television programs. My memories of Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Dressup and Vegetable Soup are as vivid now as they were then. But there will always be a special place for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred…

Using laughter to revive a struggling community

The National Comedy Center will open its doors on Aug. 1 in Jamestown, N.Y., the birthplace of Lucille Ball

Using laughter to revive a struggling communityIn a Western New York city of about 30,000 residents, a first-of-its-kind attraction dedicated to the art, history and social significance of comedy is set to open. The National Comedy Center will open its doors in Jamestown, N.Y., on Aug 1. More than US$50 million have already been spent in building the brand-spanking-new facility. It’s…

Tax the Internet in the name of Canadian culture?

Canadian production is booming. It hardly needs more official intervention – and funding – to continue to grow

Tax the Internet in the name of Canadian culture?Those of you who have fled the walled garden that constitutes Canada’s regulated Can-con broadcasting system for the freedom of the Internet, beware: the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is ready to round you up. After years of news, information, education and entertainment being available unregulated from whatever source you want on a platform…

Why Roseanne shouldn’t have been cancelled

Pulling the plug on a successful product to curry favour in a politically correct environment is all too common today

Why Roseanne shouldn’t have been cancelledDid ABC make a mistake last month in cancelling Roseanne? Few people would disagree that lead star/co-executive producer Roseanne Barr’s May 29 tweet about former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett (“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj”) was incredibly offensive. Yet many don’t understand why the show’s entire cast and…

The message matters: we are what we watch and listen to

We focus too much on things that really don’t matter. Life is not all about domination, money and having a particular body type

The message matters: we are what we watch and listen toIt’s a challenging time to be a man or a boy. Looking at how we’re presented in the media, are we supposed to be superheroes with unbelievable biceps, gigolos or buffoons? Are we supposed to be sports superstars, rock stars or business moguls? It’s no easier to be a woman or a girl. Is today’s…

Television’s telling trend to female cops

On fictional program after fictional program, women dominate. Now universities reflect that trend in reality. Will the job market follow?

Television’s telling trend to female copsIn contemporary British and Canadian television programs, women are portrayed as the prominent police officers, with men of colour as their main complements, and white men presented in demeaning ways or absent altogether. Scott and Bailey (British) is both produced and directed by women. It features two white female detectives, both constables at first, then…

Time for #MeToo to shift to the #IRegret movement

The focus on consent has made men all over the world stop and think. Am I one of those men?

Time for #MeToo to shift to the #IRegret movementStrangely, this weird moment in history is a good time to be alive. I've been a feminist most of my adult life, at least since I realized power imbalances were rampant in present and past societies. After dedicating most of the 1990s and 2000s to fighting the good fight in the trenches, I burned out and left…

Entertainment as diversity propaganda

Television has taken it upon itself to correct social wrongs. But it doesn't fairly represent the mosaic of our society

Entertainment as diversity propagandaTelevision programs not only entertain, they also influence our ideas about society and culture. These messages aren’t meant to solely and accurately reflect social reality – they’re also meant to shape that reality. People and their actions and opinions are presented as if they’re typical and to be emulated. These programs offer a view of…

Rolling the gender boulder up the broadcast hill ignores bigger issues

The CRTC should be far more concerned about the role of women within the telecommunications industry than in TV

Rolling the gender boulder up the broadcast hill ignores bigger issuesIf you like Canadian television and you’re a woman – better yet, you’re a woman in the industry – there’s a chance that in the years ahead you’re going to like it a lot more. That’s because, in alignment with the federal government’s commitment to a strong feminist agenda, its communications regulator is once again…

Elwy Yost and a land where the shadows are always like magic

Elwy Yost turned generations of young people into film buffs through his groundbreaking television programs

Elwy Yost and a land where the shadows are always like magicIt’s amazing how a simple word, gesture or sound can instantly bring back a flood of memories. That’s what happened to me recently. I saw a Facebook post in January by writer/blogger Kathy Shaidle containing a short YouTube clip and four little (albeit profound) words, “I still miss Elwy.” For anyone who grew up (particularly…

Roseanne brings the blue-collar perspective back to TV

A grossly underrepresented sector of popular culture gets a loud, sarcastic but sympathetic voice

Roseanne brings the blue-collar perspective back to TVLater this month, Roseanne returns to ABC after a 20-year absence. In a nine-episode run starting on March 27, the trials and tribulations of the working-class Conner family of the fictional town of Lanford, Ill., will take centre stage once again. The Hollywood Reporter asks pointedly in a recent headline: “Is TV Ready for a…

The enduring legacy of maverick media baron Jim Shaw

A hard-nosed businessman, he made a brilliant cable territory swap, competed ferociously with Telus and pulled Global television from the Canwest inferno

The enduring legacy of maverick media baron Jim ShawFew occasions better illustrated the cultural divide between the world of the western bottom-up entrepreneur and that of Ottawa’s top-down public service bureaucracy than when Jim Shaw and Konrad von Finckenstein crossed swords in a hearing room. There, front and centre of the raised platform bearing commissioners, would be the multilingual Von Finckenstein, a six-foot-something-awesome…