King, C. M. (2000). Effects of humorous heroes and villains in violent action films. Journal of Communication, 51 (1), 2-24.

Abstract:  This experimental investigation explores the use of humor in violent action films, focusing on the effects of wisecracking heroes and villains on audience distress. An action film was edited to create control film versions without wisecracking dialogue. The research revealed contrast effects. Among female viewers, hero wisecracks in an action film increased distress reactions to the film, but lessened distressful reactions to subsequent televised depictions of real, nonhumorous violence. Conversely, males exposed to hero humor found the film marginally less distressing, but rated depictions of real violence more distressing. For all viewers, effects of villain wisecracks tended to parallel females’ reactions to hero wisecracks. Disposition theory is offered as a plausible explanation of study findings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)