PG-13 Movies More Violent?

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A study published by the Anneberg Public Policy Center and Ohio State University puts forward evidence that PG-13 movies are more violent than those that are rated R. The methods of the study are quite interesting. Reserachers examined the top 30 highest grossing films each year since 1985 (420 movies in total). They then searched for the firing of handheld guns "with the intent to harm or kill a living being..." Overall, the number of PG-13 films depicting such violence was larger than R-rated ones. 

Researchers are disturbed by these findings because of the correlation between visualization of guns and aggressive behavior in people. In 2010, the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin published a study that said that when people see a gun in the same room, they behave more aggresively. Though the study didn't directly attach their findings to guns in movies, experts are still wary of what the effects might mean. 

In addition, the study by the Policy Center found that the amount of gun violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985. In light of the recent plague of gun violence across the country, many people have been quick to deny the correlation between violence in entertainment and real life, but this trend should still make people stop to think. Regardless of whether or not there is a causal effect involved, the irony of these findings in PG-13 movies is unavoidable. 

Parents are typically opposed to letting their kids watch R-rated movies. When I was growing up, my dad did everything he could to keep me and my younger sister from seeing them. However, he had no problem watching PG-13 movies with us. Yet, as this study shows, he was actually condoning a larger proportion of violence by relegating us to watching only PG-13 movies. 

From my experience, this has a lot to do with Americans' feelings about sex and violence. A lot of R-rated movies receive this rating because they involve sex scenes and sensuality. On the other hand, it's perfectly fine for people to get blown to bits in a PG-13 film. Many Americans fear exposing their kids to sex, and they're more comfotable letting them see violence on the big screen. This is a pretty odd worldview, to me, and I think it has an impact on the way our country's children behave. 


1 Comment

I think it is important to question whether or not the study was quantified in percentages rather than simple numbers. If you think about it, the number of PG-13 movies that are released each year are much greater than the number of rated R movies, especially the ones that make it into the top 30 of the year (obviously since a larger number of people are able to go see them). So, I think it is important to note whether a larger percentage of PG-13 movies had this violence versus the percentage of R-rated movies, rather than just the numbers which would be an unfair comparison. However, I do think this is a good topic and should be strongly considered by moviegoers everywhere.

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