The level of gun violence in the top-grossing PG-13 images is on the rise and now rivals that of the most popular R-rated movies, according to the report “Gun Violence Trends in Movies,” published in the December issue of Pediatrics.
Researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that episodes of violence in films has doubled since 1950 and that gun violence in PG-13 films has more than tripled since 1985, when the PG-13 rating was instituted.
Researchers looked at the most popular and top selling films. Joan Graves, head of the MPAA, has defended the movie rating system in a statement to the Associated Press, saying “We try to get it right. The criticism of our system is no coming from the parents, who are the people we’re doing this for.” She also said that PG-13 is not a “namby-pamby rating,” and is meant to tell parents they are strongly cautioned about the film’s contents.
What do these findings say about the American film viewing audience? Why have films aimed at younger audiences become more violent? Should MPAA ratings be more stringent about violence in films?
Dan Romer, Associate Director of Research at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-author of the study.
Wade Major, film critic for KPCC and producer and host for IGN’s DigiGods.com
Lael Loewenstein, film critic for KPCC and Variety