August 5th, 2016 – Filmmaker and comedian Mike Birbiglia has released a new movie and a bold position on the credibility and integrity of the Motion Picture Association of America. The MPAA gave Birbiglia’s new film, Don’t Think Twice, an R-rating, and that label didn’t sit well with the comedian who was given the accolade of writing “his Annie Hall” by one critic. Don’t Think Twicerevolves around the lives of an improv group that begins to grapple with the consequences of chasing their dreams after they get their big break. When his project was gifted an R-rating, Birbiglia took to Twitter to point out the imbalance between the scoring of his movie versus Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad is lead by Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and tells the story of a secret government agency that recruits super villains to carry out black ops missions. Producer Charles Roven told Collider that it was always Warner Bros. intention to aim for a PG-13 rating for the miscreant crew.
“The intention of the film is definitely to be PG-13… We really want to make these films tonally consistent so that, as I said because this is a shared universe, at least our current thinking—and again, we’re not dealing in absolutes because while this is business it’s also a creative endeavor, so you want to leave yourself open to changing your mind, doing something different, being inspired, that’s the whole process of filmmaking is you have to allow for inspiration as well as having a road map for what you’re gonna do,” he said. “So our plan right now is to make all these films PG-13. In some cases, you know, right there on the edge of PG-13, but still PG-13.”
Fellow filmmakers, along with critics and television/radio personalities, were quick to back up Birbiglia’s attack. They leaned heavily on the belief that the MPAA is outdated and is merely a tool to ensure a big payday for action blockbusters. Judd Apatow, who has released plenty of R-rated films, engaged with Birbiglia and Twitter users about the subject.
According to Parent Previews, Suicide Squad’s rating is due to violence, sexual content, language and alcohol use with violence being the most in-depth problematic area.
“Violence is seen throughout the film including onscreen shootings (with no blood or explicit details) and hand-to-hand combat with knives and other weapons. A female character is shown being electrocuted by a male character,” the site writes. “Female characters are physically assaulted by male characters. Persons being burned alive are briefly seen with no detail. A character is killed by a disguised bomb. A death occurs when a throat is sliced off screen. A person in a position of trust kills those they are responsible for. A helicopter crashes and bursts into flames. Corpses are seen (without details). A hero character breaks a store window and steals merchandise.”
According to Collider, it’s been almost 20 years since the MPAA adjusted their rating system, and it was more than 30 years ago that they added a rating. Steven Spielberg pushed for a rating between “PG” and “R” before releasing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; “PG-13” was then put into use. The lengthy span of time and the issues that are now front and center in our world seem to be what many who back Birbiglia say are the reasons why the MPAA isn’t really looking out for movie-goers.
The current voluntary MPAA rating system has been guiding movie fans and parents since 1968. Do you think it needs to be re-worked? Do you think it should be the only voice in deeming what’s appropriate for people to watch as entertainment? Let us know below!