As already known by anyone who’s ever paid attention to an MPAA dispute, listened to the counter-protests of the NRA, seen a modern action movie, or is reading this while absentmindedly firing a semiautomatic into the air, gun violence is more prevalent than ever, yet its presence continues to have little bearing on a film’s ratings. In fact, according to a new study published in the December issue of Pediatrics (presumably for innocent children who don’t already know this), the amount of gun violence in PG-13 movies now outpaces that in R-rated ones, as studios tailor their would-be blockbusters for a broad family audience by ensuring they have none of the sex and profanity they or the MPAA might find objectionable, in between all the bloody carnage. As a result, researchers estimate that scenes depicting gun violence have more than doubled since 1950, now occurring an average of twice per hour in PG-13 and R-rated movies (the boring, talky ones).
Speaking to the New York Times, the study’s authors acknowledged that, by focusing solely on the top-grossing movies each year, their research mostly illustrates that “violence sells,” as both the industry and the audience are obviously well aware of the gun violence they’re supplying and demanding. However, the researchers expressed hope that, at long last, the MPAA would be spurred by these findings to consider applying the same draconian standards they have for nipples and the word “fuck” to excessive gun violence—particularly given the companion studies that have suggested it has an influential link on the audience’s real-life attitudes toward guns, and also given the MPAA’s famed levelheadedness. Already providing an encouraging response that suggests they’re really going to think about it this time, the MPAA declined to comment on the study.
“By including guns in violent scenes, film producers may be strengthening the weapons effect and providing youth with scripts for using guns,” the researchers said in their last-ditch argument, one the MPAA might actually pay attention to if they'd made it while brandishing a wicked MGA Ultra-Light rifle. This refers to both to the “weapons effect,” which is the observed psychological link between the presence of weapons and increased aggression, and The Weapons Effect, an upcoming, badass movie in which a bunch of youths are provided with scripts for using guns. Rated PG-13.