“A study set for publication in the December issue of Pediatrics confirms what some of Hollywood’s sharpest critics have suspected,” nytimes.com reports. “The level of gun violence in the top-selling PG-13 movies has been rising, and it now exceeds that in the most popular R-rated films.” So G now stands for “gun-related gore-fest”? “Violent encounters with guns occur, on average, more than twice an hour in the best sellers in both ratings categories, according to researchers.” Here it comes . . . “In announcing the study, its authors called for changes to the ratings system, which, according to some of its critics, is tougher on sex than on violence.” As Ellen Foley sang STOP RIGHT THERE! Turns out the Times got this one completely wrong . . .

This appeared at the bottom of the NY times piece [forcing me to re-write this blog post]:

Correction: November 11, 2013

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the type of violence the researchers were looking for when they examined 945 films made from 1950 until 2012. It was for violence in general, not just gun violence.

WTH? How does a journalist get a study THAT wrong? Could it be something to do with a bias against guns? I dunno, but the study IS about gun violence in movies. It’s called “Gun Violence Trends in Movies.” And here’s a surprise (i.e. not): the study was co-authored by a gentleman employed by one of the most virulent anti-gun organizations: annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org.

It’s disturbing that PG-13 movies are filled with so much gun violence,” said Dan Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) and a co-author of the study. “We know that movies teach children how adults behave, and they make gun use appear exciting and attractive.”

I’m so confused! Why would the Times highlight the study as BIG NEWS then retract the bit about the methodology, which undermines the entire study, which makes the Times report on the study pretty much null and void? I mean talk about an agenda. [Click here for the full press release.] Annenberg again:

The dramatic growth of gun violence in movies aimed at younger viewers is especially troubling, the researchers said, because of the “weapons effect,” a finding that just the sight or depiction of a gun can make people behave more aggressively. “Because of the increasing popularity of PG-13 films, youth are exposed to considerable gun violence in movie scripts,” the researchers said in the study. “The mere presence of guns in these films may increase the aggressive behavior of youth.”

May? What “weapons effect”? Oh wait. I think I got it. The study sucks so the reporting sucks so I suck for not figuring that out before. Right. Carry on.

40 Responses to OMG! Gun Violence! In G-Rated Movies! OMG!

  1. So then a classic B-grade ninja film with decapitation and chopping off arms and legs and sprays of blood and gore doesn’t count as violence?

    Or, I know, Lord of the Rings? No violence there…

    How ’bout some good old-fashioned death rays in sci-fi? Clearly, blowing somebody to bits isn’t violent, right?

      • Ha! Awesome.

        You gotta watch out for the red lightsabers. They’re the dangerous kind. If Anakin had stuck with basic Jedi blue instead of one of those Evil Assault Sabers, he’d never have joined the Dark Side.

        Or did he get a red one because he had already joined the Dark Side ? So confusing…better ban them all before they corrupt the youth.

    • Since 1950?

      Did they bother to look at all the TV shows in the same time period? Gunsmoke, Lone Ranger, Bat Masterson, Have Gun(!), Will Travel, etc. And that was just the westerns. What about M Squad or Highway Patrol?

      These people are just as full of sh!t as the folks with the idea that violent video FPS games will turn kids into mass murderers. The point of the stories is the message – who is being shot and WHY? If the outcome is in favor of the protagonists and the bad guys get the dirt nap, isn’t that a good influence on kids?

  2. Old Corporate Executive: Nice shooting son. What’s your name?
    RoboCop: Murphy.

    Best response ever.
    P.S. The ‘M’ in SdubM45 stands for Murphy

  3. At the bottom of the NY times piece, for what it’s worth:

    Correction: November 11, 2013

    An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the type of violence the researchers were looking for when they examined 945 films made from 1950 until 2012. It was for violence in general, not just gun violence.

  4. So by there logic Bambi should be rated R because of gun violence, but Showgirls should be rated G because sex and nudity is harmless to children. Typical.

  5. It’s the “New Journalism” whereby you write the story so it says what you WANT it to say (knowing that is what most people will remember), but later retract or correct it on page 12 or in teeny-tiny-font-size notes.

    That way you can pretend you “reported the facts” and still pretend that the article says something else entirely.

    • In my Digest tonight I’ve got an example of a story (that was covered on TTAG) being memory-holed not because the story was in error, but because the subject of the story changed his mind about the policy. The entire story is gone, the quote we used is gone, and the link now points to the “revised” article.

    • “but later retract or correct it on page 12 or in teeny-tiny-font-size notes.”

      “I never said I never said you could keep your own doctor and insurance!”

  6. Bearing out the thrust of this article, there’s no question that Elmer Fudd’s shotgun violence toward Bugs Bunny led Glenn Close to boil Michael Douglas’ rabbit in “Fatal Attraction.” It’s a proven fact.

  7. The absolute absurdity that “Gun Violence” is somehow more disturbing than violence in general, and thus deserve extra special scrutiny, is both farcical as well as infuriating!

  8. They wouldn’t have anything to whine about if producers didn’t keep neutering what should be hard-R movies down to PG-13 to get teenagers in the crowd.

    Seriously, when you have a movie with a PG-13 rating and the words “Die Hard” or “RoboCop” in the title, you’ve done something very wrong.

    • “They wouldn’t have anything to whine about if producers didn’t keep neutering what should be hard-R movies down to PG-13 to get teenagers in the crowd.”

      If we could only get Hollywood to understand that making money isn’t the most important thing…

  9. This is odd. I read an article about this subject on my local news station yesterday, and it said:

    “Researchers examined a total of 945 films, drawing from the 30 top-grossing movies from 1950 through 2012. It focuses on sequences involving ‘the firing of hand-held guns with the intent to harm or kill a living being.'”

    I thought that was strange, as a lot of old movies and TV shows contained plenty of shooting but no bloodshed. And I always thought that it was the bloodshed that determined the rating. This reminds me of the push, a few years ago, to assign an R rating to any movie that shows smoking.

    The article has not been “corrected” and is located here: http://www.komonews.com/news/entertainment/Study-PG-13-gun-violence-rivals-that-of-R-movies-231503821.html

    • How about the original A-Team TV show? As I recall from the few times I bothered to watch it, in each and every show there was always a climactic shoot-out where they fired thousands of rounds from fully automatic weapons at each other and I do not recall even once where anybody actually got shot, much less bed. I would tend to think that THIS sort of unreal gun play is more harmful than say, “Saving Private Ryan”

    • Rating smoking R didn’t work. Everybody knew it wasn’t the cigarette, but what you did just before lighting a cigarette, that deserved the R.

  10. I can’t think of any possible way that PG-13 movies of today could top the 1980s. You’d be hard-pressed to find even an animated Disney film that didn’t have at least one MAC-10 or MP5 in it.

  11. The “Battle of Britain” movie from the 1960’s garnered a G rating. Though the violence depicted was a bit dated in terms of special effects and was meant to be loosely historical, it did have its fair share of guns, blood, and burned flesh to warrant a rating for more mature audiences.

    • Some of the movies rated PG, and even G, were very harsh until the PG-13 rating came out. There are so many examples, but the ending of Beneath the Planet of the Apes stands out as especially trauma-inducing. Lots of bloody bullet holes in bare skin, and that was rated G. The Getaway and Electra Glide in Blue were both PG and definitely not for children.

      And the MPAA rarely goes back and changes ratings on old movies. At least they had the sense to re-rate Let’s Scare Jessica to Death as PG-13.

  12. If the mere image of a weapon induces aggression why is it that CCW holders are statistically less likely to commit crimes? Shouldn’t seeing (and touching) a gun all day every day eventually lead to some weapon induced mega rage making them incapable of containing their malice? Oh wait, liberals actually think that IS how it works. . . absolute garbage.

    If there was anything to this the police would carry concealed so that the sight of their weapon(s) didn’t incite aggression in suspects and trips to the museum would leave children stoked and aggressive instead of dull and bored.

  13. Well, you have to give the study authors credit for this truth: “…they make gun use appear exciting and attractive.” Well, that’s because gun use is exciting and attractive. Glad we all agree on that point, at least.

    • I am confused also. Is cleaving zombies’ heads in two with a broadsword now less politically correct than tricking them onto a subway car headed for the heart of the Sun?

  14. I heard someone talking about this study on ABC News with Diane Snoozer (TV was on while waiting for the local news…honest). At the tail-end of the report, the reporter, David Wright, said, “gun violence in the movies may have dramatically increased, but in real life, violent crime is at an all-time low.” You could have knocked me over with a hummingbird feather, but it also caused me to involuntarily blurt out a rhetorical question: “then why did you report on it?”

    Of course, we know the answer to that. I was just shocked that the reporter acknowledged and added that to his report.

    • I think you nodded off into a dream, personally. Happens to me all the time.

      Memo to self: cut back on the Melatonin.

  15. To quote Archie Bunker: “Well, geez, little goil, would it make ya feel any better if they was pushed out a window?”

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