His name is Bond, James Bond – and he's a lot more violent than he used to be.
Researchers who analyzed 22 Bond movies – all except for Skyfall, which had not been released during the time of the study – found that 2008's Quantum of Solace was more than twice as violent as Dr. No, the first movie featuring the superspy released in 1962.
There were 109 acts of violence in Dr. No, compared with 250 acts of violence in Quantum of Solace. And it is also more extreme: Solace clocked three times as many acts of severe violence.
The researchers from the University of Otago, in New Zealand, used a modified scheme from a U.S. National Television Violence Study from 1997. Under that scheme, violence was categorized as either trivial (pushing or slapping, for example) or severe, which includes kicking, punching or attacks with weapons.
As Bond has become more violent, it is likely that other popular movies with the same rating have as well. It's not a development to be taken casually, study co-author Bob Hancox, a professor in the department of preventive and social medicine, said in a release. "There is extensive research evidence suggesting that young people's viewing of media violence can contribute to desensitization to violence and aggressive behaviour," he said.
The study is published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Whether or not watching Bond films will actually influence aggression in younger viewers is a matter of speculation, but previous research has supported the argument that popular movies are becoming more violent.
Last year, in a longitudinal study of "ratings creep" that looked at movies that received a Motion Picture Association of America rating of PG-13 in 1988, 1997 and 2006, researchers counted every incidence of violence, sexual content, nudity, use of adult language and substance abuse.
"Our quantitative content analysis of 45 films indicated a significant increase in violent content in these films, despite the ratings remaining the same," Ron Leone, a media and film professor at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, said in a release. "We searched for evidence of 'creep' in all categories, but our results pointed to one conclusion. In the PG-13 rating category, the only area of adult content on the rise was violence."
He added, "Today's PG-13 movie was yesterday's R movie."
The latest Bond flick, Skyfall, is rated PG-13 – the same as Quantum of Solace.