It's amazing how reflecting everyday life in visual mass media can be such a controversial issue.

Of course, those working towards accurate representation of diversity know that this has always been the case.

But it's still mindboggling how bent out of shape some people get from simply seeing what is true to the 21st century world.

Take for instance the online criticism that arose in response to a Cheerios ad depicting interracial parents (a white mother and a black dad). And this was in May 2013, people.

With Mad Men’s seventh and final season starting next month, television network AMC has rolled out a couple of cryptic publicity pieces.

Normally, promos are no big deal. But with Mad Men—saturated in symbolism and rabidly dissected on Internet forums—the promos have become something of a March tradition, a chance for fans to read the tea leaves, as it were.

Rick Mercer loves to see singer Jann Arden freaking out. Then again, who doesn't?

Well, it may have never crossed your mind but after watching the following clips from the Rick Mercer Report, you'll see what I mean.

He's featured her on his show several times, trying out activities that involve heights or speed (not the drugs—yet). Oh, and fear.

On a February episode of the Rick Mercer Report, Rick takes Jann to a wallclimbing gym. The ensuing antics turn out to be entertaining (and pretty much sums up my first experience a few years ago—sadly, not much has changed for me on return visits).

There’s been some pretty sweet concert Blu-rays released in the last little while. Hugely impressive was last week’s Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration–Deluxe Editionfrom Legacy Recordings, the same folks who gave us recent killer boxed sets by Johnny Winter and Mike Bloomfield.

In a sitdown interview with The National, Canadian comedian Martin Short had some serious thoughts about Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Pulling no punches, Short said, "I don't think Rob Ford is remotely good for the country."

He noted that London, England's mayor, Boris Johnson, has previously appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, "and he really made a great representation of the city, he represented the city with a great elegance." 

Asked whether he thought Ford was embarrassing to Toronto, Short said, "I think if he really loved Toronto he would have resigned....To hang in there because you love Toronto is a little more narcissistic than he claims."

Just before she started getting recognized for her appearances in a string of videos for Aerosmith power-ballads, Alicia Silverstone made her feature film debut in the low-budget 1993 thriller The Crush. The film was shot in Vancouver, so naturally I did the set visit for Fangoria magazine.

I interviewed Silverstone, who had recently turned 16, on Halloween, 1992. This was nearly three whole years before a certain high-falutin' magazine put her on the cover.

The ninth annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival takes place at Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street) from Thursday to Sunday (March 6 to 9). The festival includes screenings, workshops, and panel discussions.

The festival will open with Vancouver director Karen Lam’s supernatural thriller Evangeline. Other B.C. features at the festival include Lisa Jackson’s documentary How a People Live, which portrays the resurgence of a First Nations community after forced relocation; as well as director Michelle Ouellet’s Vancouver-made drama After Party, which stars Ali Liebert; and Anne Wheeler’s documentary on Bbz Chula, Chi.

This morning's news release from H&M doesn't reveal whether one of Spain's most famous exports, Penelope Cruz, was paid to put on this dress last night.

Regardless, it will come as a surprise to some that a movie star with her cachet would show up at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in a dress created by the in-house design team for a mass-market merchandiser.

It's not the first time that this has happened.

Last month, Jessica Alba appeared at Paris Fashion Week in H&M garb.

What's next? Scarlett Johansson in Le Chateau?

Yes, Cate Blanchette won for Best Actress—we all knew that would happen—but Matthew McConaughey's Oscar for Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club was never a complete certainty. 

But he did it, rounding off the McConnaisance in grand style.

His speech wasn't as spacey as the one at the Golden Globes, but it was still, like all things he does, beautifully behind-the-beat.

And after describing his father doing a dance in heaven with some gumbo and a Miller Lite, he threw in a little Wooderson and gave us the best moment of the night.

John Ridley's Best Adapted Screenplay win for 12 Years a Slave is one of those class awards that the important movies get while the popcorn-sellers like Gravity clean up in the technical categories.

But it would have been nice to see Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, and Julie Delpy's (frankly more impressive) work for Before Midnight get the prize, if only cause we could have seen Ms. Delpy throw her Gallic weight around on stage.

Yesterday, the French actor made headlines with a few well-aimed torpedos at the Academy itself.

"It's 90% white men over 70 who need money because they haven't done anything in a long time," she said, before going on to declare all of her own Hollywood work as "crap."





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