James Bond movies are more than twice as violent as they used to be, according to a study in New Zealand. Researchers fear that exposure to such violence can contribute to aggressive behaviour among children.
Violent acts in Bond films were more than twice as common in 2008 film Quantum of Solacethan in the first 1962 movie Dr. No, according to research from University of Otago.
Researchers analysed 22 official franchise films, spanning 46 years, to test the hypothesis that popular movies are becoming more violent. 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, the journal Archives of Paediatric & Adolescent Medicine reports.
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, according to an Otago statement.
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 - like punching, kicking, or attacks with weapons - or trivial violence such as a push or an open-handed slap.
Study co-author Bob Hancox, associate professor 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 of concern.
"There is extensive research evidence suggesting that young people's viewing of media violence can contribute to desensitisation to violence and aggressive behaviour," says Hancox.
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.