PG-13 movies now have more gun violence than R-rated ones. Proof again I suppose that violence sells, especially to teens.
I was in fourth grade when Red Dawn debuted as the first PG-13 rated movie back in 1985. At the time Red Dawn was released, it was considered one of the most violent films by The National Coalition on Television Violence, with a rate of 134 acts of violence per hour, or 2.23 per minute. And although not every PG-13 movie has had significant violence (think Pretty in Pink) it turns out PG-13 and gun violence have become close bedfellows over the last 28 years.
New research out today in Pediatrics finds that gun violence is becoming a common pillar in the movies. Researchers sampled 945 films (all from the top 30 grossing films annually) since 1950, coding and evaluating five-minute violent sequences in those films. The results proved unsurprising, but nonetheless unsettling: overall gun-violent sequences more than doubled in the 60 years from 1950 to 2012. When looking specifically at PG-13 movies, researchers saw a tripling in gun violence since the rating was created in 1985. The trend for violence in these PG-13 movies has grown so rapidly it's created a new reality. Over the past 30 years, R-rated movies have shown no change in the amount of gun violence sequences while PG-13 have soared, making gun violence more prominent in PG-13 movies than in R-rated movies. Stunning, when you think of it -- gun imagery densely populating the movies targeting our teens. Yup, violence sells.
The Weapons Effect
Researchers embarked on this study in part because of concerns about "the weapons effect." They note that the national dialogue about guns and safety has been lacking mention of the weapons effect, that is, the fact that just seeing a weapon can increase aggression or aggressive behavior. It was more than 50 years ago that researchers first described the weapons effect, with 50 subsequent studies replicating the effect. Further study has found that even just hearing about guns can increase our aggression. The weapons effect is consistent in both angry and non-angry people.
Exposure to violent media can increase aggressive attitudes, behaviors and values, particularly in children. This finding has been scientifically reviewed and replicated numerous times; it is endorsed by 6 public health organizations (The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association).
Tips For Families
WATCH: PG 13 Violence
Follow Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SeattleMamaDoc