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‘Cartoons kill’: Kids’ movies show more death than adult ones, study finds

AFP Photo/Str

AFP Photo/Str

The number of onscreen deaths of main characters in children’s films is two-and-a-half times greater than in movies for adult audiences, a survey that examined 45 of the highest-grossing animated flicks in history revealed.

“Rather than being the innocuous form of entertainment they
are assumed to be, children’s animated films are rife with
on-screen death and murder,”
a survey published by the
BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) this week

According to the researchers from University College London and
the University of Ottawa, the death of an important character
occurred in two thirds of children’s animated films, with the
figure for adult flicks standing at around a half.

The deaths in movies for kids are often violent, which “might
be more traumatic for children”,
the survey entitled
‘Cartoons kill’ said.

The surveyed movies included three gunshot deaths (Bambi, Peter
Pan, Pocahontas), two stabbings (Sleeping Beauty, The Little
Mermaid) and five animal attacks (A Bug’s Life, The Croods, How
to Train Your Dragon, Finding Nemo and Tarzan).

The demise of main characters was likely to happen in the early
minutes of children’s animation, the survey said, like in Finding
Nemo where Nemo’s mom is eaten alive by a barracuda at 04:03 and
Tarzan where a leopard kills Tarzan’s parents at 04:08.

In general, the parents were five times more likely to perish in
kid’s films than in movies for older audiences.

The survey examined 45 of the highest-grossing animated films in
history – from 1937’s Snow White to last year’s blockbuster

The adult films they were matched against consisted of the two
highest box office grossing movies in the same year as each
animated film was released, including horror and thriller flicks
like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Pulp Fiction, The Departed and
Black Swan.

The researchers advised the parents to “consider watching
such movies alongside their children, in the event that the
children need emotional support after witnessing the inevitable
horrors that will unfold.”

However, onscreen death is not only bad for kids as films, which
model “appropriate grief responses could help children to
gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of death.”

As an example, the survey uses The Lion King, in which a lion cub
forgives the murder of his father in order to cope with his loss.

“Films depicting death in this more nuanced way could provide
a valuable resource for initiating discussions about death
between children and adults. Indeed, cinematherapy is sometimes
used to facilitate counseling with grieving adolescents, a
therapeutic practice that might be extended to younger
the researches explained.

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