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West J Med. 2000 Sep;173(3):164-8; discussion 169.

Violence and its injury consequences in American movies: a public health perspective.

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  • 1Southern California, Injury Prevention Research Center, UCLA School of Public Health, CHS 76-078, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA.



To evaluate the seriousness and frequency of violence and the degree of associated injury depicted in the 100 top-grossing American films of 1994.


Each scene in each film was examined for the presentation of violent actions on persons and coded by a systematic context-sensitive analytic scheme. Specific degrees of violence and indices of injury severity were abstracted. Only actually depicted, not implied, actions were coded, although both explicit and implied consequences were examined.


The median number of violent actions per film was 16 (range, 0-110). Intentional violence outnumbered unintentional violence by a factor of 10. Almost 90% of violent actions showed no consequences to the recipient's body, although more than 80% of the violent actions were executed with lethal or moderate force. Fewer than 1% of violent actions were accompanied by injuries that were then medically attended.


Violent force in American films of 1994 was overwhelmingly intentional and in 4 of 5 cases was executed at levels likely to cause significant bodily injury. Not only action films but movies of all genres contained scenes in which the intensity of the action was not matched by correspondingly severe injury consequences. Many American films, regardless of genre, tend to minimize the consequences of violence to human beings.

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