Depiction of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Substances
in G-Rated Animated Feature Films
by Kimberly M. Thompson and Fumie Yokota, Pediatrics 107(6):1369-74 Abstract
Release - June 5, 2001
Our review included
81 G-rated animated feature films first released in theaters and available
for rental on videocassette before October 31, 2000. A list of
the films reviewed and the information that we collected is summarized
in the Pediatrics article.
While the link between experiencing media that show a behavior and
the imitation of the behavior by youth is limited to correlation, not
causation, our study finds that many of these films marketed to children
show drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco as normative behavior and
fail to convey the long-term consequences of substance use. We
are highlighting an important opportunity for parents to use these animated
films to talk to their children about the potentially harmful health
effects of consuming alcohol and/or tobacco.
The study finds that use of alcohol and tobacco is not limited to "bad
guys." In fact, good guys were shown drinking alcohol or smoking
nearly as often as the bad guys.
There are large differences in the amount of alcohol and tobacco use in the films. Thirty-three of the 81 films we reviewed contained no alcohol or tobacco use. On the other hand, "The Three Caballeros" had the highest amount of tobacco exposure at nearly 10 and a half minutes while "Sleeping Beauty" had the longest amount for exposure to alcohol at nearly three minutes.
We did find a statistically significant decrease in the amount of both alcohol and tobacco use in films over time. This relationship implies that on average a film released in the early 1940's had 46 seconds of alcohol use while a film released in the late 1990's had approximately 10 seconds of alcohol use. Similarly, on average a film released in the early 1940's had 136 seconds of tobacco use while a film released in the late 1990's had approximately 21 seconds of tobacco use.
While these results are encouraging, the trends do not provide a strong
indication of a commitment from the film industry to eliminate the depiction
of alcohol and tobacco use in G-rated animated films.
Wine was the most commonly consumed form of alcohol (39%), followed
by beer (24%), champagne (20%), and spirits – hard liquor (17%).
Cigars were the most commonly used tobacco product (67%), followed by
pipe smoking (14%), cigarettes (11%), other tobacco products (5%), and
a combination of products were seen in 3% of the scenes. The table
in the Pediatrics article summarizes which alcohol and tobacco products
were used in each film.
Only three films contained a message that a character should stop smoking
and none contained messages about restricting consumption of alcohol.
In addition, thirteen out of the 81 G-rated animated features (16%)
contained scenes set in a bar or nightclub. The presence of a
bar or nightclub scene is a significant predictor for the presence of
alcohol and tobacco use in the film, and the high incidence of violent
acts occurring in the bar and nightclub scenes suggests that bars are
exciting and dangerous places.
That is a question for all of us. Our study finds that there is a significant
amount of alcohol and tobacco use in many G-rated animated films. Once
parents are aware of their children's exposure to alcohol and tobacco
use, they can make more informed choices about media and talk to their
children about substance use issues.
Check out Internet sites such as Screen
It! 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 alcohol, tobacco,
or drug use in the films with their children.