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Parents far more worried about sex than violence in movies, study shows

Technically Incorrect: As blockbuster movies and video games continue to show graphic violence, those who rate movies commission research and discover that puritanism is alive and well.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Violence in movies is alright, as far as parents are concerned?

WatchMojo/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

If you move to America from that Europe place (as I did), you discover that the locals have their own particular concerns and foibles.

The mere sight of a female nipple on the screen can incite outrage. The mere sight of a large gun eviscerating dozens of humans on a screen only incites entertainment.

The Classification and Rating Administration, responsible for movie ratings in America, wondered if this was still the case. So it commissioned the 2015 Parents Ratings Advisory Study (PDF).

At heart, CARA wondered whether it was getting movie ratings right. Could it be that the tinge of social liberalism taking hold of younger generations is now evident in parents' response to movies?

Goodness, no.

When asked what concerned them most about movies their kids could see, 80 percent declared "graphic sex scenes," 71 percent pointed at "full male nudity," and 70 percent kvetched about "full female nudity."

Graphic violence came below "use of hard drugs." "Horror violence" tied with "marijuana use." "Brief nudity," "partial nudity," "suggestive sexual innuendo" and "nongraphic sex scenes" all worried these parents more than "realistic violence."

As some are upset that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" gets a PG-13 rating for its violent content, you might wonder whether these parents believe that the ratings system is generally accurate. It seems 80 percent did.

However, a majority believes that almost all types of sexual content should automatically get an R rating. A majority also believes that no F-word should be used in a PG-13 movie. (Please tell me Harrison Ford gets to swear in this one.)

The survey was performed by Nielsen, which talked to 1,488 parents of kids aged 7-16, beginning on June 22.

The debate about movie and video game violence is one that has gone on for some time. Exposure to media violence, say some researchers, is a risk factor for subsequent violent behavior.

Last year, a study suggested that, as Time magazine reported, "66 percent of researchers, 67 percent of parents and a whopping 90 percent of pediatricians agree or strongly agree that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior among children."

However, another 2014 study concluded: "Overall, no evidence was found to support the conclusion that media violence and societal violence are meaningfully correlated."

It could be that movies (and video games, which are ever becoming more movielike) simply mirror society's enthusiasms as well as its fears and that the decision on whether to expose children to certain movies relies on common sense.

But as mindless, horrific, real-life violence comes closer to more Americans more often, might there be more pressure on movie and video-game makers to become a little less realistic?

Or is this just who we are: Shunners of sex and glorifiers of gore?

Is America's motto "make war, not love"?