Why Hollywood films should come with a health warning

Films such as Basic Instinct, American Pie and the James Bond movie Die Another Day showed frequent acts of sex between new partners who never give a thought to birth control or the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

A review of the 200 highest grossing films in cinematic history says they are undermining the safe sex and "just say no" messages that underpin public health campaigns. Only one included a suggestion of condom use.

Basic Instinct, released in 1992, starred Sharon Stone whose character seduces the detective investigating her for murder. It included six episodes of sexual intercourse between new and married partners in which no condoms, no birth control measures and no health consequences were shown.

American Pie featured seven sex scenes, all between new partners, with no condoms or birth control and the only unwelcome consequence being social embarrassment.

Hasantha Gunasekera and colleagues, who conducted the review, said the most successful films are now shown around the world and their makers must consider their impact on public health.

"The movie industry influences the perceptions of billions of people. With globalisation and the growth of home-based media technologies, movies are more accessible to a wider audience and there is convincing evidence that the entertainment media influences behaviour," Dr Gunasekera said.

In 98 per cent of the sex scenes studied - 53 episodes in 87 of the films - no form of birth control was used.

None of the films referred to the risks of unsafe sex, such as sexual infection or pregnancy. Instead, they were more likely to depict the social embarrassment of being caught in the act or of being unfaithful.

The authors say in the review, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine: "Comments made by characters during the movies reinforced promiscuity and ridiculed monogamy and celibacy."

Drug use featured less commonly than casual sex but it too was shown without damaging effects.

Just 8 per cent of the films showed cannabis and 7 per cent other illicit non-injected drugs, always in a positive or neutral light.

Scenes of drunkenness appeared in a third of the films and smoking featured in two thirds. None of the films showed injecting drug use, "perhaps reflecting the target audience," the researchers say.

Three out of four included behaviour potentially damaging to health including unprotected sex between new partners, drug use, smoking and intoxication.

"The regular exposure to unprotected sex with new partners and recreational drug use by influential movie stars in combination with an absence of negative consequence from these actions must be considered in the context of the difficulty experienced by public health advocates in changing population behaviours."

Television producers were more responsible and showed more safe sex scenes. Film producers should learn from television, the authors say.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
film
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure / Development Support

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity to join a...

    Recruitment Genius: Partnership Relationship Manager

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partnership Relationship Mana...

    Recruitment Genius: Mobile Developer - Xamarin

    £45000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software development compa...

    Recruitment Genius: Student Support Assistants - Part Time & Full Time

    £14600 - £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are passionate about sup...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore