The Daily Mail is reporting on the study, conducted by researchers Dr. Ian Colman and Dr. James Kirkbride, of the University of Ottawa in Canada and University College London, which found that cartoons released between 1937 and 2013 were “rife with death and destruction” with animated characters almost twice as likely to be killed as actors in movies aimed at adult audiences.
“Rather than being innocuous and gentler alternatives to typical horror or drama films, children’s animated films are, in fact, hotbeds of murder and mayhem,” the study concluded.
Researchers examined the 45 top-grossing children’s cartoons, beginning with Snow White in 1937 and up to last year’s big hit – Frozen.
Researchers studied the films to determine how long it took for key characters to die, whether the first on-screen death was due to murder, or if it involved a main character’s parent.
A surprising two-thirds of the cartoons depicted the death of an important character compared with half of the adult films.
In fact, grisly deaths were quite common in cartoons such as in Bambi, whose mother is gunned down by a hunter, as well as the stabbings in Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid. Peter Pan and Pocahontas also feature shooting deaths. Cartoons such as A Bug’s Life, The Croods, How to Train Your Dragon, Finding Nemo and Tarzan all contain animal attacks, such when Tarzan’s parents are attacked and killed by a leopard just five minutes into the show.
Despite how innocent they may look, on-screen death and violence can be very traumatic, particularly for young children, and its impact can be “intense and long-lasting.”
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