Comedian and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia criticized the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system Wednesday, expressing confusion about how a film as violent as Suicide Squad could receive a PG-13, while his own dramedy Don’t Think Twice was rated R.
“Suicide Squad has machine gun killings and bombings and got a PG-13 rating,” Birbiglia wrote on Twitter. “@Dontthinkmovie gets an R because adults smoke pot. Confusing?”
Based on DC Comics’ motley crew of the same name, Suicide Squad tells the story of a team of supervillains blackmailed into saving the world from an evil sorceress. Like many modern action tentpoles, it features extensive but mostly bloodless violence.
Don’t Think Twice, meanwhile, centers on a New York City comedy troupe whose members find themselves at a crossroads.
A spokesperson for the MPAA declined to comment on Birbiglia’s remarks.
Among the voices expressing solidarity with Birbiglia is comedy filmmaker Judd Apatow, who tweeted, “Studios own the ratings board. Violence sells so they make pot and sex the scary thing so they seem caring.”
This isn’t the first time the prevalence of violence in PG-13 films has come under scrutiny. A 2013 study, for example, found that the level of gun violence in popular PG-13 movies exceeds that of R-rated movies.