Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why do parents let their kids watch more sex and violence today?” you ask? That’s a good question . . . timely too. (Besides, it beats answering the question: “Why does my mother tell me all the sexy girls have Ebola?”)
According to a new study just published in the online journal Pediatrics, sex scene in R-rated films are now more prevalent. Scenes of violence are also more common in movies as well. In fact, gun violence alone has tripled since 1985.
The research team at Annenberg Public Policy Center believes this is due largely to the fact that parents are becoming desensitized to sex and violence. The more they watch films filled with sex and violence, the less concerned they are about their children watching them as well . . . regardless of age or ratings.
They determined this by interviewing 1,000 parents of pre-teens and teens as they viewed numerous film clips. The participants were asked what an appropriate minimum viewing age for children was. The more clips of sex and violence participants watched, the more lax they reportedly became about whom should be permitted to view the movie.
Initially, participants gave violent scene and average appropriate viewing age of 16.9. Sex scenes were at first given an appropriate viewing age of 17.2. As the study came to a close, however, the numbers had dropped. Parents gave violent scenes a viewing age of 13.9 and sex scenes were deemed appropriate for 14 year-olds.
What do some of those working in the industry think? Actress and singer Suze Lanier-Bramlett offered her take on the issue:
“Since the very beginning of film making, actually from the very beginning of entertainment of any kind, going all the way back to William Shakespeare and before him, art and literature has been based largely around sex and violence. Human beings, by nature, are sexual and potentially violent creatures.
“Look at all the wars, etc. People and audiences need escapism from their mundane, and for the most part, boring day-to-day lives. So, they are able to live vicariously through art, film and literature which needs to be exciting. Who wants to watch a movie about washing dishes and going to the grocery store?
“Of course, there is a time and place for ‘adult’ entertainment, but even Disney projects. once considered only for ‘family’ viewing, have elements of sex and violence. I’m glad I’m not a parent of a small child today as I would think it’s next to impossible to shelter a child from sex and violence. The internet, alone, is filled with it, and I doubt there’s any going back. So parents, explain the best that you can to you little one, and hope for the best.”
Not only is there “no going back” but the researchers also reported that parental influence is also present when films are actually rated. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) – the motion picture review board—contains several parents, in fact. The investigators believe the marked increase in sex and violence could stem from the fact that moms and dads are becoming desensitized to scenes of sex and violence. They conclude that scenes of sex and violence “may contribute to the increasing acceptance of both types of content by both parents and the raters employed by the film industry.”
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