PG-13 Gunplay Way Up Since The 80s

By: Sean Patterson - November 11, 2013

Since the PG-13 rating was introduced in the mid-80s, the movies carrying the rating have changed substantially. PG-13 used to indicate non-family flicks that weren’t quite adult enough to deserve an R rating. Now, the rating is filled with movies made to appeal to young teens or movies that studios have censored down from an R rating to gain a wider audience.

With those changes has come a variety of tropes, not the least of which is gunplay. A new study published today in the journal Pediatrics has shown that modern PG-13 movies now have more than three times the gun violence of PG-13 movies in 1985.

“It’s shocking how gun use has skyrocketed in movies that are often marketed directly at the teen audience,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a communications and psychology professor at Ohio State University. “You have to wonder why we are seeing this surge in gun violence in PG-13 movies, when it isn’t appearing in G, PG and R-rated films.”

Bushman and his colleagues looked at 915 movies that were part of the 30 top-grossing movies from 1950 to 2012. They split the movies into five-minute segments and recorded instances of violence in the movies. Since the PG-13 rating was introduced, gun violence in PG-13 movies has steadily increased while gun violence in G, PG, and R-rated movies has stayed relatively constant. R-rated movies were shown to have an averagy of 1.54 five-minute segments of gun violence per hour.

The rise in PG-13 gunplay isn’t necessarily related to the popularity of guns in U.S. teen culture. Instead, the study’s authors believe that it could be related to the way R ratings are determined in the U.S., where sex or nudity is more likely to result in an R rating than violence.

“By the standards of the MPAA, PG-13 movies shouldn’t have as much violence as R-rated movies, but they clearly do,” said Bushman. “It appears sex scenes are more likely to result in an R rating than scenes of violence.

“”Based on what researchers have found, it is not good for teens to be viewing this much gun violence in films.”

Sean Patterson

About the Author

Sean PattersonSean is a staff writer for WebProNews. Follow Sean on Google+: +Sean Patterson and Twitter: @St_Patt

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  • Yep

    Only in America is sex viewed as taboo but killing someone and vengeance is glorified. No wonder our kids shoot up our schools. Go to the more liberal countries in the world. They don’t have the violence, the crime,the drug problems, the abortions, or the murders the United States has. One day America will realize that it is messed up as a nation. I know the media portrays us as the most moral country in the world, but that is just propaganda and most of America hasn’t left their own hometowns so they have no clue how the rest of the world lives.