In Second Life, what is the ultimate expression of Media 2.0? What is its significance in terms of SHEP and MIGRAIN?

Second Life is a virtual world which was produced and is accessed via the internet. It is free to join for all to join and its users are known as residents. Each resident creates their own avatar to present them in this virtual world and the scary thing is that there are no limitations on how similar it has to be to the actual person creating it. This feature allows people to be able to fufil their dreams on Second Life even if this is not possible in real life, maybe beacuse they are not socially accepted for whatever reason or because they are judged by their appearence which could stop them, e.g. aspirations to be a model but they are only 5'2, which could be altered in Second Life. A person can break away from stereotypes of themselves that they cannot change otherwise, like race or gender, and can create their own lives.

In Second Life, residents can explore areas, meet other residents, socialise and participate in individual or group activities, everything a person could do in real life. However Second Life also allows virtual property and services to be created and traded within their virtual world, known as the grid. Although real resources are not used real money can be made from Second Life which some could argue does make the gain ground breaking in terms of political and economical context, where a person can recieve money for something they have not psyhically provided and can create jobs and income from nothing. N. Knonk found in 2008 that because there was no classification system in Second Life members were not experiencing the game in the way in which it was made and because of this extra attention had to be made to ensure Second Life has a more user-created but community driven atmosphere to prevent a similar situation in future.  

The interaction of Second Life makes it a good example of Media 2.0 and the common definition of Media 2.0 is the use and acceptance of different forms of media in everyday life. This is clearly shown in Second Life and it could be argued that it has been taken to the extremes because it can fufil all human desires on a computer and they would have no need to leave their computer. Members can socialise, eat, sleep, work, play and make money online. The institution is trying to take over basic human living which shows how the social context of the time in which we are now in allow that to happen. More and more people quit their jobs and become so engaged with Second Life it turns into their obssession and years ago this would not have been allowed to happen but now it has become more socially acceptable. The impact of new digital media has become so strond instead of being part of everyday life in different forms for some people Seond Life now is their everyday life.  

It has been said that Media Representations often reflect the Social and Political concerns of the age in which they are created. Discuss.

Many issues could arise from the representation of disabled people in the media, mainly because the actually definition of media has changed over time and also because everyone has their own personal view on what classes someone as disabled. The actual definition of disability in the Disability Act of 1990 is described as 'a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities'. Whereas, years ago disability was seen as paying for your sins and being changed by the devil. This shows what a major part the social  In turn the media reflected this and through past media we can see examples of the portrayal of disabled characters by non-disabled people that have shown them to be pathetic, simple-minded and sometimes evil individuals. As Richard Rieser rightly said the media showed the uncomfortable view of people having to be faced with disability rather than the way disabled people themselves are.

An example of the way the media has changed the perception of disabled people can be seen in My Left Foot. A film made in the late 1980's about a young irish man, Christy Brown, who has cerebal palsy but has great artistic talent, this film shown one of thr typical stereotypes of disabled people known as the 'Super Cripple', which is a disabled person who has overcome something and therefore becomes accepted. This is the main storyline of the film and throughout it we see how he becomes a countertype breaking away from the mould of other disabled people of that time. In one scene Christy finally gets recogntion from his father when he carries him to the pub and proudly holds him and shouts 'He's my son' after Christy is able to show his family his understanding by writing mother on the floor. This example is very sad and gives a sense of disassociation even from his own father which would have reflected the feelings of people of the time, it could be said disabled people were seen as not even being human.

The way people feel about disability has also changed dramatically. As mentioned before up to 1800's disabled children were seen as changelings and women who gave birth to disbled children were burnt at the stake as witches. It is hard to believe that that really used to happen in a society and age where disability is now socially acceptable and disabled people now appear on children's television programmes and make-over shows. From this we can see the way the media are now trying to take a more active role into trying to portray disabled people accurately and many programmes have tried to do that.

BBC Three broadcasted a programme called 'Britain's Next Missing Model' about beautiful women with disabilities trying to become models. The title of the programme also plays on the words of the popular Britain's Next Top Model about young women trying to win the prize of becoming the 'top' model of the competition. The programme tried to show the gap between disabled people and the majority of people is becoming smaller and from the programme this can be seen as true. It was breaking classic stereotypes of disabled people being hard to stomach physically and needy as these women are strong, independent people who are trying to model just like girls in the original version. This type of media has seemed to make a big impact a similar shows are coming out such as Gok Wan for Channel 4 presenting a makeover show just for people with disabilities. To see this type of acceptance in media of disabled people is refreshing and will go along way with wiping out the negative view points held by the public about disabled people. As these type of shows are already making a difference it is quite clear that media can change people's outlook entirely on such issues.

Another example of this shift in attitudes of disability because of the media is the new Channel 4 teen drama 'The Cast Off's' similar to the hit show Skins in terms of context, social setting and target audience. The Cast Off's is based on the lives of six disabled people and them dealing with emotions everyone goes through but people may not commonly associate with disabled people, such as love, lust, betrayl, failure and success. By showing them in this light the series is quite hard hitting at the same tie as being quite funny.

Political changes in the media in terms of the representation of disability can also be seen in the Paralympic Games, which shows the idea of tailouring the Olympics to fit a disabled participant's needs. By making this change in something as big as the Paralympic's recognition is being given worldwide into the accepatnce of disabled people not only in sport but in socities in general as being as fully capable of participating as any other person. Although the media have started to break away from the negative stereotypes of the past and are starting to break through to the general public and make them question their ideas, which is how strongly the inpact of how a group is represented or misrepresented can have a great affect on people.

Media representations rarely challenge the dominant values of society nor do they give a voice to those with little power. To what extent is this true for the group or place you have studied? Why?

In general, African Americans are given little say when it comes to their own repesenatations in the media which are usually made by people with no idea of their situation or style of living. Historically African Americans have always been seen as inferior, looked down upon, submissive and 'looked after' by White people. In terms of African Americans the relevance of this question is very important as ethnic minority groups have a hard time making themselves heard.   

The dominant values of the majority of African Americans have low self esteem and not very positive influences in the media which obviously effects their view about themselves. Most members of the African American society want to break free from it and feel like they've made something of themselves by rising above their negative surroundings. Most African American societies are full of violence, crime, broken homes and alot of its inhabitants are uneducated which is also known stereotypically as the Hood. An example of this can be seen in the social backgrounds of the main African American characters in Crash.

The idea of false conciousness and those with little power not given a voice is strong in the media especially towards African Americans. People from the Hood feel they have overcome their surroundings and made something out of themselves by usually becoming sports stars or musicians, it is rarely education based which could show that despite earning a higher income, being known and not living in that atmosphere they are still being held back although it is not evident.

Examples of texts that show this version of 'reality' could be seen as representation of 'the Hood' and the people who live there. The film 'Boyz and The Hood' appear to be showing real by showing possible roads young black people can take in their life and implying that their life choices and wether they are successful or not are completely their own decision. The film fails to really take into account other factors such as social surroundings or being economically deprived. The film was also produced by a Black director of a middle class background which could explain why it is bias to an attitude which completely supports the 'American Dream'. 

Another example of this can be seen in British teen films such as 'Bullet Boy' and 'Kidulthood' which seem to show the choices young black people can make in their lives but these films unlike 'Boyz and the Hood' does actually take into account other factors that could be holding back individuals and stop them from really achieving. They seem to show environmental and social factors to play a part in this. However older films such as 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner' clearly show they typical African American stereotypes Stuart Hall put forward such as the 'Good Negro' who knows their place in society and accepts their low value by others in society and the 'Brutal Black Buck' also quite common in society now a days, for example in 'White Chicks'. These type of stereotypes are ones in which African Americans have no say in and although they may be partially true as a rounded character they are totally exaggerated.   

However 'In the Heat of the Night' seems to show a rare counter type in the way the main character is repeatedly abused racially and physically misjudged and misrepresented only to appear more intellectually and socially better off then his white 'double' with the same job and position but in a different town. In conclusion, representations of African Americans in media are very rarely challenged (only as individuals who rise out of their neglected background which seems to be the only theme) and are in fact at times reinforcing the dominant values the media has placed on them, for example their stereotypes. Those with little power, the ethnic minority themselves and many Black actors struggle to really have a say against people of higher positions who usually are White like directors and producers. An example of this would have to be Ludacris's character in 'Crash' which sums up the way many African American films and peoples many struggle in the media which make them become part of the 'self fulfilling prophecy'.  

Many media texts feature real people and real places. Are such representations more realistic? Answer with reference to a group or a place. 

Representations can change in the media, both across different platforms and within different areas. The word realistic when refering to the Media can have several different variations which makes the answer for this question hard to define. A specific group of people that I have chosen to focus on are teenagers who are often wrongly portrayed in the media or their stereotypes tend to be exaggerated. There are many different media platforms to study, which could include social networking, e-media, films, magazines, TV sitcoms and soaps as well as the use of internet and news. 

The use of Print media in the form of newspapers tend to appear 'realistic' however tabloids usually use 'sensationalised' stories, for example, 'Dad at 13' which was featured in The Sun which seems to play up to this idea of Moral Panic by photographing a teenage boy who looks young for his age at a high angle lying next to his baby. This image is trying to use shock factor by manipulating the photo to appear as though he is only a child himself.

An example of this can also be seen in Time, a news magazine with a cultural bias, where a child appears 'pregnant' with the wording 'Children having Children' both the image and the wording reinforce Moral Panic through their representation of teenagers as being wild, out of control and being too young to know what is best for them. However this article was written from an adults viewpoint, which adds to the questioning of its reliablity compared to a Teen Guide magazine, that encourages Global Action and being active to help the enviroment. This magazine could be deemed a more realistic representation of teens as it was written by teenagers, so they would know their own target audience best.

Without doubt the biggest use and consumption of E media is definietly teenagers. In a survey conducted recently titled 'Top 25 teen websites', over half of those listed were social networking sites and how surfing the net is more popular with teenagers (12-19 year olds) then it is with any other age group. Knowing these results we may assume that E media would have the most realistic representation of teenagers then any other. A BBC blog, 'The way we Behave' listed ten reasons to 'cheer up' our teenagers, implying teens are school dropouts who lack motivation in their lives. However news on the BBC website revealed the rise of youth crime on buses has 'soared' with the Head of the Transport & General Workers Union saying staff suffer "torrent of abuse" from teens. He also goes on to say how teens use buses as "their own personal taxi service", "running wild" and "are answerable to no one". The question should be raised that although levels of abuse have gone up, what percenatge of teens are accountable for this, is the case of repeat offenders and not acually the representation of teens as a whole.

TV media such as soaps, films and news also play a role in unrealistic representations of teens. Although, as an audience, we may feel that the news we see is the complete truth and not altered in any way this is actually completely false. The Mediation Theory is used to encourage the audience towards a particular viewpoint. In the Mediation Theory, selection is used to pick the most relevant stories and they are placed in a particular order, which will differ in terms of insitutions. After this stories will be focused in on order of their importance, decided by the institution and their target audience. 

An example of this can be seen in an extract from BBC news where the headline is 'Parents Keep tabs on their Kids' where the newsreader and guests discuss safety for kids on the internet and how parents can watch what their children do and keep an eye on them. Through the middle of the dicussion Breaking News appears in which the headline reads 'Backpool Stabbing' with the emphasis being on a 16 year old boy, this represents the theme of Moral Panic again in terms of teenagers being represented as out of control, in gangs and violent.

Soaps also represent teens in different ways like soaps only aimed at a teenagers, Hollyoaks and Skins, and more mainstream soap like Eastenders. Through the teaser trailer for the new series of Skins the representations of teens seem to be wild, out of control, violent and promiscuis by watching a house party get out of hand. Hollyoaks also seem to show a similar representation of teens through the storylines that seem to take place from drug addiction, sexual confusion and rape to suicide, self harm and racisim. A helpline number also appears at the end of each episode to help young viewers who may be affected by a storyline. Although the representations of characters in Hollyoaks emphasis Moral Panic and is very exaggarated the support the soap offers teens helps them. Eastenders however is set in a more family, community based spirit and the teen representations are more varied but still stereotypical and unrealistic.

Films such as Kidulthood and Bullet Boy seem to glamourise the 'gangster' lifestyle through their controversial use of graphic scenes of violence, drug taking, casual sex and crime despite the fact that most of their audience are teens themselves watching their own 'representation'. Kidulthood, for example, seem to encourage Moral Panic by shocking the audience into apparently 'realistic' representations of what teenagers are becoming today. The stereotypes and representations of most UK films tend to be similar to the main uneduacted, violent, over sexualised gang members seen in Kidulthood and this could be due to ownership and control issues within the media.  
Teenagers in general have always been seen as rebilious and moving away from the social norms in order to 'discover' who they are However this stereotype has never been as negative and exaggarated as it is today. Teens today are perceieved as school dropouts with attitude problems who are violent drunks that get pregnant too young. Representations of teens are definately exaggarated because by walking in an UK high school the majority of students wouldn't fit this stereotype.