‘James Bond Effect’ Cited in Study on Movie Violence

Quantum of Solace

90% top-grossing movies show main characters acting violently

Violence and risky behavior are permeating Hollywood’s most successful movies and bringing a message to young people that violence is acceptable, this according to a new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study, released Monday by the journal Pediatrics, found that nearly 90% of top-grossing movies over a 25-year period show main characters acting violently, and in 77% of the movies those characters also engage in sex-, alcohol- or tobacco-related behavior.

The study also found that more than half of the biggest PG-13 movies featured a main character acting violently and involved in either drinking, sexual behavior or smoking within a five-minute segment — leading researchers to conclude that movies are “potentially teaching youth that violence is as acceptable as these other behaviors.”

“We know that some teenagers imitate what they see on-screen,” said Amy Bleakley, lead author of the study. “What concerns us is that movies aimed at younger viewers are making a connection between violence and a variety of risky behaviors – sex, drinking and smoking.”

The study, entitled “Violent Film Characters’ Portrayal of Alcohol, Sex, and Tobacco-Related Behaviors,” analyzed characters’ actions in five-minute segments in 390 of the biggest box office movies from 1985 to 2010.

“There’s kind of a James Bond effect, in which violence is glamorized in combination with other behaviors we otherwise try to discourage in youth,” said Dan Romer, a co-author of the study.

Researchers cited James Bond thrillers “Quantum of Solace” (2008) and “Casino Royale” (2006), as well “Mission: Impossible II” (2000). Those films were all rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America.

The study also found that violent characters appearing in R-rated movies were twice as likely as those in PG-13 movies to engage in “explicit sex” — with researchers finding that occurred in 16.6% of R-rated movies and 7.8% of PG-13 films.

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  1. ta11coo1one says:

    This study is fundamentally flawed in that it focuses on the most popular movies to see what percent of them have violence. It should ask itself, “Why are the violent movies the ones that are so popular when there are so many movies out there where violence is not glamorized?” People like to see violence and “risky behavior” in movies because we don’t get to act that way in real life. I’m willing to bet that there were no teen dramas on your list because those movies, while critically successful, are not popular. People (even kids) do not want to go see a movie where the characters go to their mundane jobs and then to their mundane homes.

  2. John Shea says:

    Maybe they’re afraid too many teenagers will join the British Secret Service, or order their Vodka Martinis shaken but not stirred?

  3. gabriel says:

    The U.S. remains a frontier country. Heavily influenced by individualistic bravado, against nature, against the grain, against bandits and oppressive laws. We escaped prudish Britain, revolted against them, then pushed West unto the wild braving the elements and hardship in relative anarchy.

    No surprise we enjoy violent films here. Now Hong Kong’s action movies…how to explain them…they have brought the genre to heights Hollywood rarely dreams up.

  4. Matt says:

    The premise of this article is confusing. James Bond “type” of movies influence other movies to be violent, which are all most likely box office successes?

  5. Chris says:

    I don’t really understand what they mean with the James Bond Effect. Do they mean that, because movies like James Bond, where the hero is authorized to commit violence, make it easier for other movies to be violent as well?

  6. John Shea says:

    Monkey see, monkey do? Another moral panic just in time for Christmas. Though it’s really a very old and tired moral panic disinterred for the occasion. What an insult to young people such ‘studies’ are! Haven’t these ‘experts’ better things to do with their time and (our?) money?

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