Gun Violence in PG-13 Films Has Tripled Since 1985

Gun Violence in PG-13 Films Has Tripled Since 1985

PG-13 films in 2012 contained more violence than their R-Rated counterparts.

The PG-13 movie rating was created in 1984 as a way to tell parents that the movie little Timmy wanted to see wasn't quite as violent as an R-rated flick, but still contained some content that might questionable for a ten year old. No matter your feelings on movie ratings and organizations like the MPAA, there is some undoubted wisdom behind that. Time, however, has arguably seen the rating erode to the point that an R-rated movie from the 80s might actually seem tame compared to what makes into PG-13 films today.

For instance, according to a new study published by The Office Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the occurrence of gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985, the first full year after the PG-13 rating took effect. In fact, when it comes violence in general, PG-13 movies actually eclipsed R-rated films in 2012. The result, of course, is that younger audiences are being exposed to content that, even just a few years ago, might have potentially earned a higher age rating.

Granted, the study does come to some arguably dubious conclusions based on these results. Saying that "the mere presence of guns in these films may increase the aggressive behavior of youth," for instance, is likely to leave some eyes rolling. Even so, the study overall can perhaps serve as a continued reminder of just how silly the current movie ratings system is. I, for instance, am not a proponent of shielding kids from everything with even a hint violence in it. That said, I'd agree that movie ratings, in America at least, definitely give too much weight to sexuality and nudity and not enough to violence. Somehow the presence of an on-screen boob on just seems less serious than a head shot.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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It seems to me that the ratings are there to protect parents, not children. Why our hero shot the villain is much easier to explain to little Timmy than what is he doing to the nice lady...

I think it's not that the system has become more lenient so much as film-makers have got cleverer at working around the restrictions. Eg I believe Lord of the Rings gave the orcs green blood as a way round the restrictions on on-screen gore.

Flatfrog:
I think it's not that the system has become more lenient so much as film-makers have got cleverer at working around the restrictions. Eg I believe Lord of the Rings gave the orcs green blood as a way round the restrictions on on-screen gore.

Reminds of how cartoons in the 90s would let you kill robots all you wanted but not people. Beast Wars was brutal, but no one complained because who cares about what happens to a Transformer.

Flatfrog:
I think it's not that the system has become more lenient so much as film-makers have got cleverer at working around the restrictions. Eg I believe Lord of the Rings gave the orcs green blood as a way round the restrictions on on-screen gore.

Sounds reasonable, yeah. I couldn't say for sure if it is true, but it's very much what film makers would (and I suppose, should), be doing.

Good.

I believe this is a sign of the movie ratings simply being less stupid.

Also, gun violence is a broad term. Plenty of westerns have gun violence, but it's presented as bloodless, the extra goes down dramatically but quickly. Now, in Django unchained the gun is presented as a weapon of mass, close up destruction, a speeding chunk of metal sending massive splats of blood from whatever unfortunate person it hit. That is far more violent, deserving of its UK 18 rating. Plenty of guns in captain america, even the avengers, but again, these guns are surprisingly clean.

You could say the cleaner versions trivilise guns, but I don't think so. It's the script, not effects, that decide the weight of a fictional life taken, and most movies that aren't obviously OTT at least acknowledge that taking a life is a big thing.

Society is changing. The things we were afraid might have an effect on the nations youth are different. The idea that violent media leads to violent people is bullshit that ignores all the data on violent crimes, which has been at an all time low since the 90's and has only just now started to rise again, and that is more likely attributed to economic strain than anything else (Although these are complicated issues and cannot be pinned on any one source).

And meanwhile nudity in pg-13 has just gone away. Way to get our priorities straight.

In before thread is full of "nudity isn't worse comments"

No, it isn't, but there is an argument to be made for Little Jimmy seeing nudity and being aroused by it, to then later feeling cultural and biological pressures to go "score" before Now Older Jimmy is really ready to have kids. Suddenly, Jimmy's and Jimmy's Kid's lives are screwed up from his bad choices. The same can't be said for an impending need to take a life because the bad guy got what he deserved in a movie.

Now, is all that relevant enough to keep kids away from sex? I'll let Jimmy's parents decide. I'm betting that Jimmy's Dad just doesn't want competition!

Double post! Damn, my tongue-in-cheek wasn't funny enough to be said twice!

If there's more violence in PG-13 films then it is because the industry no longer makes 18/R rated films like they used to; back in the 1980's and early 1990's 18 rated films were much more common, and films were more aimed at adults while this has changed due to shifts in attitudes and because kids/teens have become more empowered, socially and economically. So the violence that used to be shown in 18/R films has now filtered down to the PG-13 rating, only at a reduced intensity.

I personally don't see what the issue is; I grew up watching 18 rated films and say what you want a 12 or 15 rated film doesn't even come close to an 18 rated film say like Drive, which is very violent.

P.S a good example of this is Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the violence in that film doesn't even compare to the first two.

What I find funny/disturbing is that parents don't seem to be picking up on this trend at all - they figure anything with that rating, especially the superhero movies, can't be that bad for young kids. I can count at least four times I've seen kids about 6-8 years old going into a superhero movie that ended up having some of the darkest, intense moments I've seen yet such as:

-Iron Man 3 - people exploding and a guy becoming a fire demon

-Ghost Rider - pretty much everything from Blackheart

-Superman - snapping Zod's neck and watching Superman scream in horror

-The Wolverine - Him getting his skin melted off by a nuclear explosion

Oddly enough, when these things happen I don't hear a peep from any of them (at Superman the kid was right next to me and the scene in Ghost Rider where the camera fast zooms on Blackheart for some reason roaring scared the living crap out of me). Do they really handle this stuff better than we think or am I missing the part where they go home and have nightmares for weeks?

Before people start complaining "BUT BOOBS!", keep in mind that a potential mild rise in aggression while watching a movie is more acceptable to the vast majority of parents of teens than a sudden and visceral rise of arousal.

Just saying.

OT: I would agree that PG-13 movies are getting overly violent. Yes, there's a place for the Avengers and other such movies, but there's a bit of a dearth of more serious dramas and slapstick comedies. Just last night, I watched Moonrise Kingdom, which I thought was a great PG-13 movie, and it had... about two scenes of violence in it. Fast, bizarre scenes of violence.

Movies don't need all the violence they tend to have. It's often a bit wearying.

vid87:
What I find funny/disturbing is that parents don't seem to be picking up on this trend at all - they figure anything with that rating, especially the superhero movies, can't be that bad for young kids. I can count at least four times I've seen kids about 6-8 years old going into a superhero movie that ended up having some of the darkest, intense moments I've seen yet such as:

-Iron Man 3 - people exploding and a guy becoming a fire demon

-Ghost Rider - pretty much everything from Blackheart

-Superman - snapping Zod's neck and watching Superman scream in horror

-The Wolverine - Him getting his skin melted off by a nuclear explosion

Oddly enough, when these things happen I don't hear a peep from any of them (at Superman the kid was right next to me and the scene in Ghost Rider where the camera fast zooms on Blackheart for some reason roaring scared the living crap out of me). Do they really handle this stuff better than we think or am I missing the part where they go home and have nightmares for weeks?

Kids are weird. When I was eight, I thought Myst was the most terrifying thing ever, and thought Alone in the Dark was fun and silly.

Yes, Myst is actually pretty dark, but it's not in a way that would be as obvious to an eight-year-old. Alone in the Dark had a bunch of pants-wetting moments that still work today, but eight-year-old me shrugged and kept shooting.

The King's Speech. Rated R for language. What the rating doesn't say is that the language is used for "medicinal purposes", not for gratuitous or harmful reasons. Thanks to this rating, the film is less appropriate for audiences than the remake of "True Grit", a film that contains graphic violence, onscreen depiction of blood, adults attempting to murder children and animal cruelty. Yep. More appropriate for children than a non-violent, non-sexualized film about a man trying to overcome his speech impediment.

Hollywood seems... odd to me. Stuff that would have once been on the border of a G-rating is threatened with a pg-13 for 'moral' reasons (FYI, that's the actual story behind Greedo shooting first). PG-13 can have all the violence it wants, but those naughty swear words and thinking are evil.

For example, Hot Fuzz has two graphic scenes. One is spooky scary skeletons, and the other is the model church at the end. The climax has pretty much nobody getting shot to death. R.

The first movie to be rated PG-13 was Red Dawn in 1984. The precedent for gun violence in PG-13 movies was set pretty early.

I seem to recall watching a film from the 80s that had a closeup of a woman's naked breasts and still got a PG rating, so I don't really know what to make of this article.
Either way, I don't really think ratings matter all that much these days, and perhaps they never have. As a child of a very old-fashioned family, I often have to check the content of movies before watching them with my parents, and I go way beyond just looking up the ratings. IMDB has a great section where people list all the bad things that happen in a movie, and I always look there before knowing if the film is safe to watch with the folks. On the other hand, though, I feel like a lot of people do the exact opposite, where they watch a movie regardless of the warnings and then are appalled when bad stuff happens onscreen.

Movies have learnt how to get around the ratings. too bad such arbitrary messed up systems force people to make movies that fit into PGV13 frames instead of movies they want to make just so they could get more audience.

qwagor:
It seems to me that the ratings are there to protect parents, not children. Why our hero shot the villain is much easier to explain to little Timmy than what is he doing to the nice lady...

yep, thats about the gist of the rating system in the first place. they exist so lazy parents could just throw a "your not old enough" crap and not let his children watch it because later he may actually have questions. i mean, sheltering is such effective tactic, right?

Daaaah Whoosh:
I seem to recall watching a film from the 80s that had a closeup of a woman's naked breasts and still got a PG rating, so I don't really know what to make of this article.

You save a naked butt when you were a kid? surely you must definatelyl be deranged psychopath mass murderer now!

 

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