Movies targeting teenagers were often full of violence but a welcome development is that they no longer bristle with as many swear words as they did 25 years ago, a new study says.
Communications professors of the Brigham Young University analysed 90 top-grossing movies from 1980 to 2006 for swear words and bad language, including those with sexual and excretory overtones. They found that current movies have only half the profane language.
"We were quite surprised at the findings," study co-author Mark Callister said.
"When you consider that profanity is increasing on television, especially during the 9 to 10 p.m. hour, and in music lyrics, you often expect to find similar trends in other media," he added.
They selected this genre of movies, based on whether the story line centred on teens and the film featured performers aged between 12 and 17 years and teens in major and minor roles. Only G-, PG- and PG-13-rated films were included because teens aren't supposed to see R-rated movies without a parent or guardian.
The three researchers found 2,311 instances of swearing in the 90 films they surveyed.
The eighties movies, including Back to the Future, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Karate Kid averaged 35 instances of profanity per film, while that figure dropped to 25 profanities in the 1990s in movies like Clueless, The Brady Bunch Movie and Little Big League, and dropped again to 16 instances per show in the 2000s in movies including Spider Man, Harry Potter and Remember the Titans.
Commonly swear words are classified as mild words, including "damn" and "hell", and they constitute 57 per cent of the bad words, said a university release.
Researchers were concerned over how young minds are impressionable and how Hollywood movies deeply impact American culture.
"Teens have access to movies like never before through TV, DVDs, the Internet and pay-per-view," the study said.