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Study: Gun violence in movies might require PG-15 rating

People watching a movie
People at South by Southwest watching a movie. Photo: Jim Bennett/WireImage via Getty Images

A marked increase in gun violence in PG-13-rated movies may necessitate a new PG-15 rating for the industry, according to a new study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The big picture: The study found that the amount of gun violence in PG-13 films, which often sanitize both the bloodiness and consequence of such violence, had more than doubled since the rating's inception in 1985 — and even jumped above R-rated films in recent years.

The findings: Parents are more willing to let their children watch PG-13 movies with gun violence as long as it's "justified" or used in self-defense — even still, they believe that children should be around 15 to watch justified gun violence and 16 to watch unjustified gun violence.

  • Dan Romer, the study's lead researcher, said that PG-13 ratings are dishonest and that movies with PG-13 ratings often have a tendency to be more violent than R-rated films. "Hollywood is taking advantage of parents," he said.
  • The study also hoped to show the effects that viewing such violence could have on children, as a "sanitized" PG-13 version of gun violence might desensitize them. Romer said, “Hollywood is exploiting the movie rating system by leaving out harmful consequences like blood and suffering from PG-13 films ... But this gun violence may be just as brutal and potentially harmful to young viewers.”