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Boys are bad news in G-rated films

Press Release From: www.DadsandDaughters.org

New See Jane Research Shows G-Rated Movie Males are Dominant, Disconnected & Dangerous.
Geena Davis, Experts Disturbed by Findings

(Washington, DC) Our youngest children learn alarming lessons about men and boys from the movies they watch over and over, according to a new report released today at the National Press Club by Oscar® winner Geena Davis' See Jane program (www.SeeJane.org ), part of the national nonprofit Dads & Daughters (www.DadsandDaughters.org).

"G Movies Give Boys a D: Portraying Males as Dominant, Disconnected and Dangerous" reveals how male characters in children's films are portrayed as significantly more important than females, more likely to be violent, and less likely to be fathers or husbands. Males of color are shown even more negatively.

Among the report's key findings:

* G-rated movies, whether animated or live-action, are dominated by white male characters and male stories. Male characters outnumber females 3 to 1.

* Male characters are only half as likely (34.6%) as females ( 66.3%) to be parents. They are about half as likely (31.9%) as females (60.7%) to be married or in a committed relationship.

* The fathering and relationship picture is even bleaker for male characters of color. Among those male characters developed enough to ascertain their parental and/or relationship status:

* Just over a third (34.6%) of nonwhites are parents, compared to more than half (53.1%) of whites.

* Less than a quarter of nonwhites (22.2%) are married or in committed relationships, compared to 45.3% of whites.

* Males of color are hard to find in G-rated movies. They are only 14.5% of male characters, but 35.5% of the male US population.

* Almost twice as many nonwhite males (62%) as white males ( 37.6%) are portrayed as physically aggressive or violent.

* Among male characters, 44.1% are physically aggressive or violent, compared to 36.9% of females. With three times as many male characters, the actual number of physically aggressive males is much higher than the number of physically aggressive females.

* Males are three times more likely to be among the small number of G-rated movie characters portrayed as dumb.

"These findings are disturbing because G-rated films profoundly impact a child's development and worldview," according to Joe Kelly, President of Dads & Daughters and author of four fathering books. "The average US child owns 20 DVDs or video and watches at least one of them each day. The narrow portrayal of males is especially troubling given society's struggle with divorce, father absence, violence, and the shortage of initiatives to adequately prepare boys and young men for the opportunities and responsibilities of manhood."

Academy Award® winner and See Jane Founder Geena Davis says, "As a proud member of the entertainment industry, I know that things can get better. I believe that this report will help inspire Hollywood to provide characters and stories that more reliably reflect the world our children live in-and the one where they will live as adults."

Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and consultant to The Cosby Show, says, "The early exposure of children to less stereotyped gender roles will contribute to less sexism and improved relationships between the sexes, as well as a balanced approach in rearing male and female children."

"Characters of color are most often sidekicks, comic relief, or villains," according to principal investigator Stacy Smith, Ph.D, Associate Professor at USC. "Nonwhite male characters are portrayed as more aggressive and isolated. Only about a quarter of characters are female. The result is that the majority of children do not see themselves reliably reflected on the silver screen."

This is the second report stemming from the most comprehensive content analysis of G-rated movies ever conducted. Sponsored by See Jane, researchers from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California studied the 101 top-grossing G-rated films released from 1990 through 2004, analyzing a total of 4,249 speaking characters in both animated and live-action films. During 2006, See Jane is releasing four reports covering what G-rated films communicate to children about gender disparity (released in February), the portrayal of boys, occupational expectations for girls and boys, and body image and hyper-sexuality.

Families, entertainment industry professionals, educators and communities all have roles and opportunities in improving portrayals of females and males in children's media.

For easy-to-use tips and to read the full report, visit www.SeeJane.org.

Dads & Daughters' See Jane program, founded by actor and producer Geena Davis, engages professionals and parents to improve gender portrayals in media for children ages 11 and under. Dads & Daughters is the national nonprofit working to make the world safer and fairer for our daughters.

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