An evaluation of the Motion Picture Association of America's treatment of violence in PG-, PG-13-, and R-rated films

Department of Film, TV & Digital Media, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Ángeles, California, United States
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 06/2005; 115(5):e512-7. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2004-1977
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to determine whether the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings system distinguishes among the 3 primary rating categories (PG, PG-13, and R) with respect to violence based on a study of the 100 top-grossing films of 1994.
The Motion Picture Association of America assigns age-based ratings for every film that is released in the United States accompanied by the reasons for the rating. A data abstraction instrument was designed to code each act of violence within the sample of 100 films. A series of Poisson regression models were used to examine the association among rating, seriousness of violence, and primary reason for the rating assignment.
The total average number of violent acts within each film by rating category increased from PG (14) to PG-13 (20) to R (32). However, using results from the Poisson models, it is clear that the rating does not predict the frequency of violence in films. For all 3 rating categories, the predicted number of violent acts is almost identical for films with violence as a primary descriptor and films with the highest level of seriousness (R = 62.4 acts, PG-13 = 55.2 acts, and PG = 56.1 acts). The regression analysis shows that the rating does not predict the frequency of violence that occurs in films.
Frequency of violence alone is not the most important criterion for the assignment of rating. The content descriptors and average seriousness of films are better measures of the violence than rating assignment.

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    • "Both relational and physical aggressions are prevalent in multiple forms of media including television (Coyne & Archer, 2004; The National Television Violence Study, 1998), movies (Coyne, Robinson, & Nelson, 2010; Jenkins, Webb, Browne, Afifi, & Kraus, 2005), video games (Thompson & Haninger, 2001), and music (Rubin, West, & Mitchell, 2001). While novels as a source of media have received less research attention, Coyne, Callister, et al., (2011) analyzed the 40 best‐ selling novels aimed at adolescents and found that all novels in their sample contained aggression in some form. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although there have been hundreds of studies on media violence, few have focused on literature, with none examining novels. Accordingly, the aim of the current study was to examine whether reading physical and relational aggression in books was associated with aggressive behavior in adolescents. Participants consisted of 223 adolescents who completed a variety of measures detailing their media use and aggressive behavior. A non-recursive structural equation model revealed that reading aggression in books was positively associated with aggressive behavior, even after controlling for exposure to aggression in other forms of media. Associations were only found for congruent forms of aggression. Implications regarding books as a form of media are discussed. Aggr. Behav. 9999:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Aggressive Behavior 07/2013; 39(6). DOI:10.1002/ab.21492 · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    • "Movies seem to be following the same trends as television programs in regards to physical aggression. Longitudinal studies have found that G-rated (for all ages) films have become increasingly violent over time (Yokota and Thompson, 2000) and that PG (parental guidance suggested) and PG-13 (parental guidance for children under age 13) movies appear to contain as much physical aggression as many R-rated (restricted; need parental consent to view movie if under age 17) movies, suggesting that ratings may no longer be a reliable way to estimate the amount of aggression in films (Jenkins et al., 2005). Browne et al. (2002) found that action, drama, and comedy films contain the most physical aggression and that the majority of physical aggression is portrayed with little or no consequences. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose ‐ This review aims to examine how aggression is portrayed in the media and how it can influence behavior and attitudes regarding aggression. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The authors reviewed the relevant literature and examined both physical and relational forms of aggression in multiple media forms (television, film, video games, music, books). Findings ‐ Across media types, evidence is found that both physical and relational aggression are portrayed frequently and in ways that may contribute to subsequent aggression. Furthermore, though there are studies finding no effect of exposure to media aggression, evidence is found that watching physical and relational aggression in the media can contribute to aggressive behavior. Prominent media aggression theories are reviewed and some of these theories are applied to relational aggression media effects. Research limitations/implications ‐ Researchers should no longer ignore relational aggression in terms of the media, in terms of content and associations with aggressive behavior. Researchers should also focus on understudied media forms, such as music and books. Practical implications ‐ Policy makers should take careful note of the research on media and aggression when deciding on public policy and clinicians should inquire about media habits when clients show problematic aggressive behavior (physical or relational). Originality/value ‐ This paper is a valuable source of information regarding current research on media and aggression. Unlike other reviews, it focuses on multiple types of aggression (physical and relational) and multiple media types (TV, movies, video games, music, and books).
    Journal of Aggression 08/2012; 4(4):186-201. DOI:10.1108/17596591211270680
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the usefulness of Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings for parental selection of appropriate films for children, the 100 top grossing movies each year from 1996 through 2004 (N = 900) were content analyzed to measure risk behaviors in each film. More restrictive MPAA ratings (R and PG-13) were associated with increased mean seconds of portrayals of tobacco use, alcohol use, and sexual content; increased frequency of violent content; and increased salience of drug use. MPAA ratings, however, did not clearly distinguish films based on tobacco or alcohol use. Fifty percent of R-rated movies contained 124 seconds or more of tobacco use, comparable with 26% of PG-13 and 17% of PG movies. Fifty percent of R-rated movies contained 162 seconds or more of alcohol use, comparable with 49% of PG-13 and 25% of PG movies. Because of the high degree of overlap in alcohol and tobacco content between rating categories, the MPAA rating system, as currently defined, is not adequate for parents who wish to limit their children's exposure to tobacco or alcohol content in movies.
    Journal of Health Communication 12/2009; 14(8):756-67. DOI:10.1080/10810730903295567 · 1.61 Impact Factor
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