Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: The Walkers Eat Martinez on The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 7: “Dead Weight”

Once again, The Walking Dead is in the spotlight for its violence. This time, a study from the Culture and Media Institute looked at the top-rated dramas to make the point that Hollywood is being hypocritical to advocate for more gun control while glamorizing violence in its TV programs.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the watchdog group used ratings to determine the 20 most popular dramas on television, then watched the episodes that aired from December 1-7, timing the study just before the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders on December 14, 2012.

"At least" 145 acts of violence were counted from the 14 episodes that aired, and they noted that three of the programs — The Walking Dead, NCIS: Los Angeles and Sons of Anarchy — had major gun battles where it was hard to determine the number of violent acts. The Walking Dead took the top spot in the study with 20 acts of violence, not even counting violence against walkers.

The media research group posted a video compiling some of the most violent TV images from that week, including many from TWD:

It's almost ironic, since TWD Season 4 has been a relatively mild season so far, in terms of human violence, and it just so happens that their study period included the one episode of TWD with a major gun battle — the Episode 8 mid-season finale on December 1. That climactic Governor/Prison battle did have major violence, but most of this season has been about the deadly flu and The Governor's transformation.

But there's no arguing that TWD isn't violent. Of course it is. Discussion about the violence comes up all the time, including a debate last year around this time, asking if TWD should have a stronger rating. At the time, the Parents Television Council was upset because TWD was rated TV-14, like PG-13 for 14-year-olds, whereas a show like American Horror Story had a TV-MA rating, which was closer to an R. (TWD’s rating was later switched to TV-MA.)

Dan Gainor, Media Research Center’s vice president of business and culture, said we're seeing just as much violence now as last year around the devastation of Newtown. He criticized a PSA featuring several actors — including Jamie Foxx, Peter Dinklage, Julianne Moore, Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler and Jeremy Renner — released after Sandy Hook, advocating for more gun control. “Talk about tone-deaf,” he said. “Quickly after Newtown, Hollywood released their video about how guns are bad. And now they’ve had a year to clean up their act, and TV is still a bloodbath.”

The study argues that it’s hypocritical to push for gun control while also normalizing and glamorizing violence on the most popular shows. Do you agree? Do you think it was in poor taste for TWD to show so much violence just before the Newtown anniversary — when there really was so much debate last year about violence in TV and movies and should we take it down a notch, etc.? Or was it just in keeping with TWD’s story, which is about humanity struggling to survive, with no connection to the sick people who choose to use guns to kill others?

The Walking Dead Season 4 returns to AMC on February 9, 2014, at 9 p.m. ET.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter