Portrayals of gun violence in top-selling PG-13 movies surpass the frequency with which they occur in R-rated films, a new study to be released in the December issue of Pediatrics reports.
Researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the Ohio State University, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that gun violence occurs more than twice an hour in both PG-13 and R-rated movies, The New York Times reports.
"Violence sells," said Daniel Romer, of the Annenberg center. "We recognize that, and the movie industry realizes it."
Romer said he thinks movie studios have been "taking films that have a lot of violence" and making them fit "into the PG-13 category."
The researchers looked at 945 movies that were among the top 30 box-office hits from 1950 to 2012 and counted the number of times gun violence occurred in five-minute segments of those films.
Gun violence has more than doubled on film since 1950, when "Cinderella," "Sunset Boulevard," and "Annie, Get Your Gun" were the top draws for movie theaters.
Since the PG-13 rating was introduced in the mid-1980s, violent encounters with guns have steadily increased, and they occur more frequently now than in R-rated movies, The Times reported, citing the study.
The authors of the study are calling on the movie industry to make changes in the ratings system, arguing that extreme gun violence should be given an R rating, just as the current system routinely gives sex scenes.
"We just think that violence, especially the kind being shown, especially with guns, should be thought of a little more critically," Romer said.
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