Violence, Lack of Inclusion Make Film Choices Challenging

More guns and less diversity leave LGBT families lacking for choices at the movies.

BY Alex J Davidson

November 13 2013 6:00 AM ET

There just don’t seem to be any movies out there for LGBT families.

On the heels of an August report from GLAAD highlighting the lack of LGBT characters in major studio releases comes a new study in Pediatrics that found violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and the presence of gun violence in PG-13-rated films has more than tripled since the rating was introduced in 1985.

Most parents think of PG-13 as a decent option for their tween children, but with a lack of LGBT character visibility and rising violence, they may be thinking twice about allowing their son or daughter to check out the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

The Pediatrics study, "Gun Violence Trends in Movies," analyzed a sample of the top-grossing films for each of the years from 1950 to 2012. The study authors concluded that even if youth do not use guns because of the increasing popularity of PG-13 movies, they are exposed to considerable gun portrayal and violence, which it warns may increase their aggressive behavior.

Trained analysts coded each film for the presence of violence and guns during each five-minute segment of the movie. Researchers found an overall annual increase in gun violence from 1985 to 2012, but the trend differed by movie rating.

Among films rated G and PG, gun violence decreased slightly. The rate of gun violence did not change for R-rated movies. Among films rated PG-13, gun violence increased, and since 2009, PG-13 movies have contained the same level of violence as R-rated movies, and possibly more. 

LGBT parents, hoping their children can see positive role models from their community, are in a pinch. In August, GLAAD found that of the 101 releases from the major studios in 2012, only 14 included characters identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. In its inaugural Studio Responsibility Index,  GLAAD also said the vast majority of the 14 characters were no more than cameos or minor roles and were largely white and in comedies. There were no transgender characters.

Parents also have less control these days over what their children watch, and when. According to Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that advocates on child and family issues, and studies the effects that media and technology have on young users, 75 percent of all kids have access to mobile devices at home.

The proportion of children who have used mobile devices has nearly doubled in the past two years, rising to 72 percent in 2013 from 38 percent in 2011. Most kids are consuming media on smartphones, which, unlike VCRs and other stationary devices that seem like Stone Age inventions, can allow kids to watch anything they want out of their parents’ reach.

Contact reporter Alex Davidson on Twitter at twitter.com/adwildcat

Tags: GLAAD, Families

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