Gun violence in PG-13 rated movies has increased considerably in recent decades, to the point that it sometimes exceeds gun violence in even R-rated films, according to a study released Monday.
Ohio State University and the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed gun violence in top-grossing movies, finding that it had more than tripled in PG-13 films since 1985. The PG-13 rating was introduced in 1984.
Gun violence in PG-13 movies has rivaled the level of gun violence in R-rated movies since 2009, and actually surpassed it in 2012, according to the study.
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 handheld guns with the intent to harm or kill a living being." The study, which included animated films, did not judge whether the representations of gun violence were cautionary in message or not.
Critics of the ratings system have long held that it places too much emphasis on sexuality and too little on violence.
"We treat sex as R," said Daniel Romer, director of Annenberg's Adolescent Communication Institute, in a statement. "We should treat extreme gun violence as R."
The Motion Picture Association of American declined to comment on the study.
The MPAA's definition of a PG-13 rated movie is that "there may be depictions of violence ... but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence."
The PG-13 rating cautions parents that the movie may include material inappropriate for children under 13. The R rating restricts people under the age of 17 from attending the movie without a parent or guardian.