PHILADELPHIA — Nearly 90 percent of the top-grossing movies over a 25-year period show main characters acting violently, and in 77 percent of the movies those characters also engage in sex-, alcohol- or tobacco-related behavior, a new study has shown.
The study, by researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, found that more than half of the biggest PG-13 movies featured a main character acting violently and involved in either drinking, sexual behavior or smoking within a five-minute segment.
The study, published in the January 2014 issue of Pediatrics (online Dec. 9), shows there is essentially no difference between the most popular movies rated PG-13 for younger viewers and restricted, R-rated films in showing main characters engaged in both violence and alcohol use or violence and sexual behavior. These compounded depictions of risk are “potentially teaching youth that violence is as acceptable as these other behaviors,” the researchers said.
“We know that some teenagers imitate what they see on-screen,” said Amy Bleakley, lead author of the study and a senior research scientist at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “What concerns us is that movies aimed at younger viewers are making a connection between violence and a variety of risky behaviors – sex, drinking and smoking.”
The study, “Violent Film Characters’ Portrayal of Alcohol, Sex, and Tobacco-Related Behaviors,” analyzed characters’ actions in five-minute segments in 390 of the biggest box office movies from 1985 to 2010. The study examined violence in combination with other potentially risky behaviors and suggested that adolescents, especially teens who are attracted to “novel and intense experiences,” may be particularly vulnerable to imitating the behavior in these films.
Related news coverage of the study:
- Little difference between PG-13 and R-rated films, study says (Deseret News, Dec. 11, 2013)
- Are Risky Behaviors in Movies Influencing Your Kids? (Radio MD, Dec. 11, 2013)
- Are PG-13 movies really R-rated? (Charisma News, Dec. 11, 2013)
- PG-13 movies have more gun violence than R-rated ones (Cosmopolitan, Dec. 10, 2013)
- Talking points: Viewer discretion (The Globe and Mail, Dec. 10, 2013)
- Penn study raises questions about movie ratings (Public News Service, Dec. 10, 2013)
- Movie violence often paired with ‘risky’ behaviors like drinking, sex (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 2103)
- Maybe it’s time for a PG-R-13 rating (“The Morning Fix,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Study: PG-13 films combine as much violence, sex and alcohol as R-rated titles (The Hollywood Reporter, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Don’t tell mom and dad: PG-13 movies are just as violent and sex-filled as R-rated ones (Time.com, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Film violence in PG-13 often comes with sex and drinking, study finds (The Wrap, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Researchers look at the “James Bond effect” on PG-13 movies (KYW, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Violence in movies prevalent whether it’s PG-13, R film: Study (CBS News, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Study shows US film ratings barely distinguish between levels of violence (The Guardian, Dec. 9, 2013)
- ‘James Bond Effect’ cited in study on movie violence (Variety, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Violence, risky behavior a common mix in big films, study says (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 2013)
- New Penn study casts more doubt on movie ratings (Philly.com, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Violence in PG-13 movies comes with plenty of sex and booze (NPR.org, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Study: Little difference in violence between PG-13 and R-rated films (KPCC, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Risky behaviors come together across PG-13 and R films (Reuters, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Violence in PG-13 Movies Frequently Followed by Sex & Drinking, Study Finds (IMDb News, Dec. 9, 2013)
- A new study links movie violence and ‘alcohol, sex and tobacco-related behaviors’ (The Dissolve, Dec. 9, 2013)
- Surprise, PG-13 movies combine as much sex and alcohol with violence as R-rated movies, too (Movie Mezzanine, Dec. 9, 2013)