Violence In Movies On The Rise
November 14, 2013

Violence In Movies On The Rise

America has a serious love-hate relationship with firearms. There are those who stand by the Second Amendment at all costs, while on the other hand there are supports of gun control who continually clamor for greater restrictions

This matter only increased when there is a tragic shooting, which, despite a modern perception, isn’t really all that common.

What is particularly odd about all this is that Hollywood has an even greater love-hate relationship with guns. On screen it seems that Hollywood embraces action more than ever, with increasingly bombastic shootouts, while off-screen, many actors and actresses seem to loathe everything to do with firearms.

It seems to be very much a “do as I say, not as I do in the movies” kind of attitude from the Hollywood types. As a movie buff I get that actors are not the characters they play in the movies or on TV, so if they’re in an action film it isn’t an endorsement for guns and certainly not gun violence.

This is fair enough of course. However, as I wouldn’t trust an actor who plays a doctor to give me medical advice, I don’t really expect an actor who plays the President to understand foreign relations, so why should I listen to anything they say about “gun violence.”

The fact that actors aren’t who they play doesn’t stop many from thinking they know what they’re talking about of course.

What is actually shocking is that while the country has actually gotten safer – crime has been down and according to the background check system gun violence is also down just as gun ownership is up – action movies have gotten louder and more action packed.

A new study by Pediatrics has noted that gun violence in movies has increased steadily since 1984. CNN looked deep into this issue and reported that since 1985 nearly 95 percent of most popular movies contain at least one violent scene and half of those involved a gun.

In many ways this could explain why people are so convinced that violent crime is on the rise when in fact it is on the decline. Perhaps we really believe the hype that there are more massive shootouts happening than there actually are.

I’ve written about this before, and I noted that previously that the 1995 movie Heat was intense for its nearly 15-minute-long shootout in downtown Los Angles. That was a film that had pretty much upped the ante, but now it seems downright tame. Today most action films have more violence that Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.

What is also notable is that violence is on the rise in PG-13 movies, so you don’t even need an adult to buy the ticket.

Meanwhile, after last December’s tragic shooting in Newtown, many in Hollywood came out to “Demand a Plan,” and released a widely-viewed PSA. Are those stars so vapid not to recall what roles they’ve been in? Many of their films and TV shows seriously glamorized guns.

Those same stars seemed a bit like hypocrites when various responses showed up that noted that many were often in roles that involved either gun violence, or otherwise took part in irresponsible behavior involving a gun.

Now the question to ask is whether that amount of violence on the big screen is having an impact on the viewers. The makers of action movies like to say no, just as the makers of video games like to suggest that the games don’t really have an impact on the player.

As a matter of disclosure I’ve long reviewed video games, I do play violent video games and I watch violent movies. I’ve written many articles on war movies over the years, and I’m also a gun owner and collect vintage rifles. However I seldom go to the shooting range and I’m not a hunter, so I own firearms that have never been fired – and in the case of a French rifle, only dropped once.

I bring this up because I can admit that when playing a game I might feel more aggressive, but never to the point have I felt the need to go shoot up the backyard! I’m a responsible adult and I don’t react violently from playing games or watching movies, but both can get my heart pumping. That is actually what these are supposed to do, just like a scary movie is supposed to make you scared.

The question now is whether all this violence has any effect on society? The studies have been mixed, but consider that in an episode of the HBO news program VICE, it looked at the gang culture in Chicago in a segment dubbed “#Chiraq.” It was pointed out that for many young gang members the gun is the tool of first response instead of the weapon of last resort. In this segment it also showed young gang members playing violent games and watching violent movies.

I can’t help but wonder whether movies, TV and notably games haven’t helped – at least in part – to install a sense of invulnerability. It isn’t that the young gang members don’t know the damage a firearm can do, but do they get a sense that they have but one life and realize the consequences of their actions?

In movies, the actor is only dead until the next movie, and in games you get another life if you “die.”

Perhaps if Hollywood’s stars really wanted to “increase the peace,” they’d consider making movies that didn’t so glorify the massive shootout.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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