Violence and weapon carrying in music videos. A content analysis

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997 May;151(5):443-8. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170420013002.


Background: The positive portrayal of violence and weapon carrying in televised music videos is thought to have a considerable influence on the normative expectations of adolescents about these behaviors.

Objectives: To perform a content analysis of the depictions of violence and weapon carrying in music videos, including 5 genres of music (rock, rap, adult contemporary, rhythm and blues, and country), from 4 television networks and to analyze the degree of sexuality or eroticism portrayed in each video and its association with violence and weapon carrying, as an indicator of the desirability of violent behaviors.

Methods: Five hundred eighteen videos were recorded during randomly selected days and times of the day from the Music Television, Video Hits One, Black Entertainment Television, and Country Music Television networks. Four female and 4 male observers aged 17 to 24 years were trained to use a standardized content analysis instrument. Interobserver reliability testing resulted in a mean (+/- SD) percentage agreement of 89.25% +/- 7.10% and a mean (+/- SD) kappa of 0.73 +/- 0.20. All videos were observed by rotating 2-person, male-female teams that were required to reach agreement on each behavior that was scored. Music genre and network differences in behaviors were analyzed with chi 2 tests.

Results: A higher percentage (22.4%) of Music Television videos portrayed overt violence than Video Hits One (11.8%), Country Music Television (11.8%), and Black Entertainment Television (11.5%) videos (P = .02). Rap (20.4%) had the highest portrayal of violence, followed by rock (19.8%), country (10.8%), adult contemporary (9.7%), and rhythm and blues (5.9%) (P = .006). Weapon carrying was higher on Music Television (25.0%) than on Black Entertainment Television (11.5%), Video Hits One (8.4%), and Country Music Television (6.9%) (P < .001). Weapon carrying was also higher in rock (19.8%) and rap (19.5%) videos than in adult contemporary (16.1%), rhythm and blues (6.9%), and country (6.3%) videos (P = .002). The videos with the highest level of sexuality or eroticism were found to be less likely to contain violence (P < or = .04).

Conclusion: Because most music videos are between 3 and 4 minutes long, these data indicate that even modest levels of viewing may result in substantial exposure to violence and weapon carrying, which is glamorized by music artists, actors, and actresses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Erotica
  • Female
  • Firearms
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Random Allocation
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Television*
  • Videotape Recording*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*