That's because PG-13 movies today — such as “The Hunger Games” or “The Avengers” — contain more violence than the R-rated films of the 1980s, according to a new report published today in the journal Pediatrics. In particular, gun violence in PG-13 films has tripled since 1985, the year the PG-13 rating was first introduced. And overall, violence in movies has nearly quadrupled since the 1950s.
Psychologists say it’s a worrisome trend that we should take seriously, because there is evidence that watching violence on screen increases aggression in real life.
“Of course it’s not the only factor, and it may not even be the most important factor, but it isn’t a trivial factor — and it’s one we can change," says Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University psychologist and lead author of the new report.
Bushman and colleagues analyzed 945 popular films released from 1950 to 2012. Each movie was among the 30 top-grossing films of that year, and they randomly chose 15 of those top 30 movies to scrutinize. Undergrads watched every film and counted every violent act — they defined a violent sequence as “physical acts where the aggressor makes or attempts to make some physical contact with the intention of causing injury or death.”
They found that since 2009, PG-13 movies have featured as much or more violence than the R-rated films released those same years. And in 2012, there was more gun violence in PG-13 films than in the R-rated ones out that year.
Take the “Die Hard” sequels. One of the films the undergrads analyzed was 1990’s “Die Hard 2,” which was rated R. But a later sequel in the series, 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard,” actually had more gun violence and a comparable amount of overall violence—and yet it was rated PG-13.
Same idea with the “Terminator” movies: The third one in the series, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” was included in the study— it got an R rating in 2003. But they found that it had less gun violence than 2009’s “Terminator Salvation,” which received a PG-13 rating.
One more example that really jumped out at study co-author Dan Romer was the famously violent 1987 film “The Untouchables.”
“It had gun violence in it that was comparable to a lot of the movies we’re calling PG-13 in the last five years,” says Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘The Untouchables’ today would get a PG-13.” He thinks the same would apply to the Eddie Murphy comedy “Beverly Hills Cop,” which was rated R in 1984, but feels more like today’s PG-13 movies in terms of violence.
Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/pg-13-movies-are-now-more-violent-r-rated-80s-8C11566223
Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.