Risky Sexual Behaviors are Often Glamorized in Movies

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Risky sexual behavior is frequently coupled with violence in major Hollywood films, whether rated R or the lesser PG-13, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania said there is little difference separating R-rated films and those rated PG-13 in terms of overall violence, alcohol use and risky sex, despite clear standards set by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

Media portrayals of certain behaviors have long raised concerns that impressible young people might be negatively impacted.

The study found violence is a common anchor trait in current films, frequently coupled with other risky on-screen behavior within minutes of one another.

Of the 390 popular film titles the researchers observed, risky sexual behavior was accompanied by violence in 62.8 percent of the films.

In 29 percent of the films, a character is seen having a risky sexual encounter within five minutes of committing a violent act.

“Risky sexual behavior was accompanied

by violence in 62.8 percent of films.”

Additionally, 53.7 percent of films rated either G or PG were found to mix violence with risky sexual behavior.

The authors of the study said context was never considered based on the storyline of the film. They attached no different interpretation to risky behaviors of a negative character versus those of a “good guy.”

The films selected were each released between 1985 and 2010.

According to the report, the findings “raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of the MPAA rating system.”

The 2005 action film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” starring Brad Pitt and now-wife Angelina Jolie, was one of the titles referenced as combining sex with violence.

Ironically, a star rating system similar to film reviews was used to distinguish which films contained sexual behaviors that qualified as risky.

Source: Pediatrics. Photo source: