File Sharing: Friend or Foe?

Early last week, the offices of The Pirate Bay in Sweden were raided and subsequently the site was shut down. The website provided magnet links and torrent files to enable peer-to-peer file sharing using the BitTorrent protocol, or in English; a website where you could download films, television programmes, music, games and much more. Obviously the site was illegal, and after years of creating alternate sites after the originals were found out, it was eventually completely shut down last week. For some people – mainly artists of the industries – this is a God send, however, for the many of us who can barely afford to feed themselves, this is a living nightmare.

Yes it is illegal, and yes it is technically stealing, yet there are so many people who do it. The industries may be making less money, but I don’t think it’s going to bankrupt Beyoncé or Brangelina anytime soon. When a cinema ticket for an adult costs around £8-10, can you really blame people for wanting to watch a film without having to pay this extortionate price? And the price doesn’t just stop there. Firstly you have to get to a cinema, which unless you live opposite one, you’re going to have to travel to in some way. Then you get there and would quite like to be able to have a drink or a snack whilst watching a film, so you then fork out a ridiculous amount for a Coke and a packet of sweets; it ends up being a pretty expensive 2-3 hours. Thank God for Orange Wednesdays though, right? Oh wait, as of February 2015 that will no longer exist either! I do enjoy going to the cinema and you really can’t beat watching a film on the big screen, but I can only ever afford to go once or twice a year. Just as it can be argued that it isn’t fair for people to not pay to watch films, it’s just as unfair that people who struggle financially have to miss out on such a prevalent part of popular culture.

In my first year of uni in one of my media classes, the room was divided in two with one side being for online file sharing (which I was a part of), and the other against it. We won. Our argument mainly discussed the music industry and the downloading of songs and albums, but I think we made some pretty good points. Online file sharing provides an opportunity for new and aspiring artists to become well known and create a fan base. With online file sharing often being free, it is accessible for so many people and through word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends, new artists can so easily get the recognition that they need to start their career. Our opposition then, of course, argued that these new artists would not be making enough money, but we argued that while they may not initially be earning a lot of money, this would come with time. In other words, by building up a devoted fan base and getting themselves ‘out there’, they would then have the foundations to gain money from events such as concerts and festivals, and from merchandise that they could sell at these.

I think that in the technology reliant society we live in, the film and music industries need to be prepared to accept the fact that if something is available to someone for free, they will take it. Where efforts have been made with platforms like Netflix to create an affordable viewing experience, I think that there is more that can be done. People who download films for free often do so because of the ease of access in terms of both affordability and the fact that you don’t even have to leave your bed. If there was a service where you could buy or rent films online at the same time that they were out in the cinema, and for a fraction of the price, this could start to bring in money. Cinemas offer a member scheme where you pay a certain amount a month for unlimited viewings, so why not make this accessible at home?

I’m not saying that illegal file sharing and downloading things for free is a good thing, because of course it is not. But I am saying that I can understand why it is done, and that surely there needs to be an alternative which suits both the industries and the consumers?

The internet overreacts to Victoria’s Secret advert

Over the last couple of weeks Victoria’s Secret, the well known American lingerie company, has been under attack on social media because of the advert for their new bra. The advertising campaign for their new product, named the ‘Body’ bra, featured a handful of the glorious models each wearing a different form of the product, with the words The Perfect “Body” sprawled across them

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I understand where the criticism is coming from and how this may upset some people, but personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I read an article claiming that this campaign is going to cause eating disorders, low self esteem and negative body image, which I think is taking it too far. I therefore feel it is important to point out a couple of things…

Firstly, the campaign is not directly calling the models’ bodies perfect. It is referring to the bra itself, which is called the ‘Body’ bra. The aim of the new line is to ensure that there is a bra for every need – for example perfect coverage, multi-way or racerback – which is clearly shown in the advert; they are stating that it is the perfect bra.

Technicalities aside, yes, Victoria’s Secret models do have amazing figures. They’re underwear models, what do you expect? For the last few years now I have watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and though I may be envious of their beauty and bodies, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for them. They work extremely hard to maintain their figures, involving eating a healthy and well balanced diet and exercising frequently. Candice Swanepoel, in an interview with vogue.com shares how she finds that “100 minutes of nonstop action every other day” to be a good way to stay in shape. Her exercises include a range of toning, cardio and shaping which show her dedication to being a healthy size. As well as informing us of her exercise technique, she also explains that when it comes to her diet, she doesn’t cut anything out. She says, “I actually focus on eating more protein and carbs to build a stronger body”, dismissing any criticism of how the models may not eat a healthy and balanced diet.

I believe that instead of ‘bodyshaming’ women, the advert could actually instead promote being healthy, and should provide women with role models to look up and aspire to. Obesity is becoming a huge problem in our society, with 64% of UK adults being classed as overweight or obese. I fear that the issue is not being appropriately addressed, with fears of upsetting or hurting people by explaining how it is important to be a healthy size. In my opinion, our society is becoming too politically correct, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to say something without being told that it is no longer acceptable to say that.

An online petition was made against the Victoria’s Secret campaign, asking them to change it and provide an apology. While the company as yet has not released an apology (and why should they?) they have unfortunately, in my opinion, changed the advert, and it now reads “A Body For Every Body”, which if you ask me, is a bit of a mouthful.

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“Who I am and why I’m here”

I’m a little late with this, but better late than never, hey?

This month I’m partaking in Blogging 101 to try and develop and improve my blogging skills. The first challenge, set on Monday, was to write a short introduction about yourself. I’ve already done this in the About section of my blog, but thought there’s no harm in giving it another go!

I’m Laura, 22 years old and currently in my third year of studying English Language and Media. I come from a small village – basically in the middle of nowhere – but have recently moved to a city to study at university. I love city life, but do occasionally enjoy the odd visit back to the beautiful English countryside.

Throughout my studies I’ve had a couple of assignments where I’ve had to write a blog, and I must say that I really enjoyed writing them. I love to write and I’ve been meaning to start my own personal blog for a while now, but have always struggled to make the first post and think of a topic to write about. I finally made the first step of actually creating a blog last week, and it was then that I came across Blogging 101. What perfect timing!

I’ve decided that the best things for me to write about are topics which I find particularly interesting, and have a strong opinion about.  A lot of these will be media related, discussing various things I have seen across social media platforms, or providing a response to an article I have read. Something which I’m particularly passionate presently is gender equality and also how women are portrayed in the media. I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a feminist though, as there a few issues I don’t agree on (which I’m sure you will find out for yourselves soon enough!).

Who would I like to connect with via my blog? Just anyone and everyone who finds what I have to say of particular interest! I welcome comments from people who both agree and disagree with what I have to say, as I’m a strong believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

By blogging successfully throughout the year, I aim to improve my writing skills and develop my own ‘voice’ and style. But as well as this I hope to create an interesting and thought provoking body of entries, and in doing so connect with people around the world. I think that blogging is an excellent thing to do, and I hope to keep it up for the foreseeable future!