Nightmare at 20,000 Feet |

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Nightmare at 20,000 Feet


Shooter_lIt’s not just airplane food that’s making some passengers queasy these days. It’s the in-flight movies. According to this New York Times article, passengers with kids are complaining more often that overhead video fare has too much sex and violence for their little ones to watch. For me, the article raises three issues:

1) Normally, I don’t place much stock in parents’ complaints about what their kids see on TV or at the multiplex, but they’re entitled to complain about in-flight fare, which they can’t choose, shut off, or have their kids look away from. Even without sound, there’s no reason little kids should be captive audiences for such explicitly violent recent films as Shooter (with Mark Wahlberg, pictured) or Fracture.

2) It’s news to me that the studios don’t provide the airlines with the edited films; rather, the Times says, the airlines hire outside contractors to make the edits, though the studios offer the airlines lists of suggested cuts to their R-rated films. This reminded me of all the hoo-ha a few years ago when some Utah video stores started renting their own cleaned-up versions of movies, prompting a successful copyright infringement lawsuit from the studios. Why are the airlines allowed to recut films and charge you to watch them, but no one else is?

3) The airlines and their editors suggest that the problem lies with the studios, who just aren’t releasing enough family-friendly fare these days. That sounds dubious to me, but even if it’s true, why does that matter if the airlines are permitted to do their own edits? And who says they have to show recent films? They’re already showing reruns of long-gone TV shows like Cheers, so why not show classic movies as well? I bet a lot more passengers would pay to watch a Jimmy Stewart or Katharine Hepburn classic than some hacky, disposable new action flick that’s going to disturb their kids.