Posted on Friday, August 5th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Let’s get real for a second here. Yes, there should be a movie rating system that informs audiences of the basic content of a movie, allowing parents and those with certain tastes to make the proper judgment call before they pull the trigger on buying movie tickets. It’s hard to imagine any decent person thinking that MPAA ratings are a bad idea on paper.
However, there’s a big difference between a sound concept and a strong execution and the MPAA has rightfully been under fire for as long as I can remember for decisions that are, well, boneheaded at best and sinister at worst. Yelling about the MPAA is nothing new! However, comedian and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia has tossed his two cents into this ongoing cluster cuss, putting the PG-13 rating of Suicide Squad in his sights.
I saw Birbiglia’s new film, the warm and funny and sad and sweet Don’t Think Twice at SXSW earlier this year and loved it. It’s a big-hearted crowd pleaser, an honest, uplifting movie about struggling improv performers. Specifically, it’s a movie about struggling improv performers who occasionally swear and smoke pot, so the MPAA slapped it with an R-rating for “language and some drug use.” That’s a low blow for a movie that is perfectly acceptable for the 14 and over set, all of whom will be able to buy tickets to the Suicide Squad, which earned a PG-13 despite containing a large amount of violence and gunplay and deeply unpleasant material.
Birbiglia made his thoughts known on Twitter:
Suicide Squad has machine gun killings and bombings and got a PG-13 rating. @Dontthinkmovie gets an R because adults smoke pot. Confusing?
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) August 3, 2016
Birbiglia isn’t bashing Suicide Squad (our own Angie Han thought it was pretty good!), but he is the latest director to expose the double standard the MPAA applies to movies. A mature comic drama with some adult moments gets locked away under a restricted rating while the incredibly violent superhero movie with a massive body count gets to be seen by pre-teens with no fuss! Of course, one is a small independent film, and the other is an expensive, glossy blockbuster that demands a larger audience to make its money. If you smell a conspiracy theory, get in line behind director Judd Apatow:
Studios own the ratings board. Violence sells so they make pot and sex the scary thing so they seem caring. https://t.co/S3VpKxUXbu
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) August 3, 2016
And if you think Apatow is exaggerating, I would highly recommend watching This Film is Not Yet Rated, a documentary that sticks a pin in the image the MPAA has tried and failed to build over the years.
This American Life host and Don’t Think Twice producer Ira Glass offered his perspective on the matter:
— Ira Glass (@iraglass) August 4, 2016
No one is telling you that you shouldn’t see Suicide Squad and no one is saying that it deserves an R-rating. However, by giving Don’t Think Twice that R-rating, the MPAA has kneecapped it and painted it as a movie it is not. It’s as simple as that. That the MPAA thinks the sweet comedy about relatable characters doing subtle and relatable things is more offensive than the film built around big action and constant violence should offend you as a moviegoer. The MPAA isn’t serving the films, the filmmakers, or the audiences when they’re making decisions like this.Cool Posts From Around the Web: