Violence in G-Rated Animated Films|
by Fumie Yokota and Kimberly M. Thompson, JAMA 283(20):2716-2720 Abstract Related letter
Release - May 23, 2000
Our review included
74 G-rated animated feature films released in theaters (1937-1999) and
available for rental on videocassette before September of 1999. A list
of the films reviewed and the information that we collected is summarized
in the table published in the
We defined violence as an intentional act of a character to make physical contact with another character that had the potential to cause injury or harm. Essentially, this is the use of physical force by a character to achieve a goal. The intention of the acts ranged from very violent acts as severe as murder or less malicious acts like hitting another character for fun or laughs.
Obvious examples include when Simba's father, Mufasa, is murdered by Uncle Scar in The Lion King (1994) while Simba watches, when Frollo ignites the stake that Esmerelda is tied to in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), and when Mickey attacks the broom carrying water with an axe in Fantasia (1940).
Some less malicious examples include when Dumbo (1941) shoots
peanuts at the female elephants, and when Tigger bounces on Rabbit and
knocks him over in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).
A less obvious example is the comedic song and dance number where the
two heads of the two-headed dragon in Quest for Camelot (1998)
consider various violent ways to separate themselves.
Parents should be concerned about violence in all contexts, not just
movies, but books, computer games, television, music, and out on the
streets. We are highlighting an important opportunity for parents to
use these animated films to talk to their children about violence. Parents
can watch these films with their children, discuss the appropriateness
of the actions given the circumstances, and explore alternative solutions
without the use of violence.
For each character that engaged in a violent act, we recorded whether
the character was "good," "bad," or "neutral." We found that in the
74 films there were a total of 125 injuries, 62 of which were fatal.
Characters portrayed as "bad" were 23 times more likely to die of an
injury than good and neutral characters.
There are large differences in the amount of violence in the films.
The total amount of violence for individual films ranges from 6 seconds
(My Neighbor Totoro) to 24 minutes (Quest for Camelot),
with an average of 9.5 minutes of violence per film. We found a statistically
significant increase in the amount of violence in films over time. This
relationship implies that on average a film released in the early 1940's
had 6 minutes of violence while a film released in the late 1990's had
an average of 11 minutes of violence.
Our review specifically characterizes the use of the character’s
body, a sword, gun, magic, explosive, and poison as weapons. Many other
objects were also used as weapons in violent acts (e.g., stones, broom,
chainsaw). The table published in the
JAMA article summarizes which weapons were used in each film.
Our review identifies the films in which at least one character conveys
a message of nonviolence (32% of films) and the films in which at least
one character celebrates an act of violence by cheering or laughing
(49% of films). One of the messages that might concern parents the most
is that violence works as a strategy for resolving conflict.
review does not provide the necessary evidence to answer that question.
We can say that there appears to be relatively more violence in G-rated
animated films now than in the past, but this does not mean that society
is getting more violent.
That is a question for all of us. Our study finds that there is a significant
amount of violence in some G-rated animated films. Once parents are
aware of the violence, they can talk to their children about this question.
Check out the Kids-in-mind and Screen
It! Internet sites that post information about potentially objectionable
material in films. Parents can use these resources to determine if the material
in the film is appropriate for their child, as well as prepare to discuss the
violent content in the films with their children.