Violent acts in James Bond films were more than twice as common in Quantum of Solace (2008) than in the original 1962 movie Dr No, researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago have found.
The researchers analysed 22 official franchise films, which span 46 years, to test the hypothesis that popular movies are becoming more violent (The latest Bond film, Skyfall, was not included as it was unreleased at the time of the study).
They found that rates of violence increased significantly over the period studied and there was an even bigger increase in portrayals of severe violence: acts that would be likely to cause death or injury if they occurred in real life.
While Dr No only featured 109 trivial or severely violent acts, there were 250 violent acts in Quantum of Solace. The latter film featured nearly three times as many acts of severe violence.
In counting and classifying violent imagery in the films the researchers used a scheme modified from a US 1997 National Television Violence Study. Violent acts were defined as attempts by any individual to harm another and classified as severe (such as punching, kicking, or attacks with weapons) or trivial violence (such as a push or an open-handed slap).
The research is newly published online in the US journal Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.
Study co-author Associate Professor Bob Hancox of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine says that as these popular films have no age-restriction and will be seen by many children and adolescents, their increasingly violent nature is concerning.
"There is extensive research evidence suggesting that young people's viewing of media violence can contribute to desensitisation to violence and aggressive behaviour," Associate Professor Hancox says.
The increase in violent content of Bond movies likely reflects a general increase in the exposure of young people to media violence through similarly rated popular films, he says.
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"Bond, James Bond: A Review of 46 Years of Violence in Films"
Authors: Helena M. McAnally (Department of Psychology, University of Otago), Lindsay A. Robertson (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago), Victor C. Strasburger (University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque) and Robert J. Hancox (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago)