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Are PG-13 Movies More Violent Than the R-Rated?

Gun Violence Movies
Sony

With the debate over gun control ever waging, even experiencing a heated revisit in light of tragic events from the past year, gun violence in film has also remained in the forefront. Celebs like Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks have denounced its cinematic use, but now there seems to be legitimate research to reinforce their claims.

According to a study — soon to be published in the December issue of Pediatrics and conducted by Ohio State University and the University Of Pennsylvania — gun violence in American films has more than doubled since 1950. What’s more disheartening for some, the results also found that violence in PG-13-rated films has been rising since the rating was first introduced in the mid-’80s and now even surpasses the amount in the R-rated fare.

To better ground this information: the researchers examined 945 films, all of which ranked among the top 30 of the domestic box office from 1950 to 2012, both animated and live-action films. On average, violent gun encounters appeared more than twice an hour in both PG-13 and rated-R movies, and no distinction was made between aggressive acts and self defense.

According to the researchers:

In many shooting sprees the perpetrator puts on a uniform (eg, hockey mask, trench coat, movie costume, military uniform), as if following a script from a movie. …

… By including guns in violent scenes, film producers may be strengthening the weapons effect and providing youth with scripts for using guns.

Some of the top films of 2012 were superhero flicks Marvel’s ‘The Avengers,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ as well as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Skyfall,’ all of which either had heavy gun violence or just plain ole violence. While 2013 was not included in this study, some of the winners thus far are ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Gravity,’ ‘Despicable Me 2,’ ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ and ‘Iron Man 3.’

“Violence sells,” Daniel Romer of the Annenberg center, one of the study’s authors, told The New York Times. “We recognize that, and the movie industry realizes it.”

What do you think? Should Hollywood crack down more on gun violence in films? Sound off in the comments.

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