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After massive online backlash, Delta Air Lines is restoring the original versions of Booksmart and Rocketman for in-flight viewing.
Early last week, a tweet from Olivia Wilde—director of 2019’s Booksmart—brought attention to Delta’s apparently strange editing policies. The 35-year-old actress and director shared a tweet from a disappointed viewer, who’d watched Booksmart on a flight. “Tried watching Booksmart on the plane and they cut the ENTIRE lesbian hookup scene like not even a KISS was allowed,” the tweet read. “Oh but don’t worry guys, the Straights got their kiss.”
Wilde shared the tweet with her own condemnation of the move. “This is truly a bummer,” she wrote. “There is no nudity in this scene. What makes it too obscene for airplane viewing? What airline?” Her question was promptly answered, as a wave of similar stories started flooding in.
This is truly a bummer. There is no nudity in this scene. What makes it too obscene for airplane viewing? What airline? https://t.co/5QwlomY2fR— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) October 27, 2019
According to a response from Delta, the airline uses a third party company that censors films based on what it deems inappropriate. In the case of several films, that appears to be any mention of an LGBTQ relationship or female pleasure. Wilde, along with plenty of viewers, questioned what it was, exactly, about the scenes that were cut that made them so inappropriate.
Viewers shared their own stories of strange censorship on a variety of airlines. While Delta was the most prominent, Etihad and Emirates Airlines were both also flagged as showing censored versions of films. Booksmart wasn’t the only film to get the treatment either. Viewers noted that other movies with LGBTQ love scenes had also been edited, including 2016’s Carol and 2019’s Rocketman.
Pretty sure Delta is the airline that edited out lesbian kisses in the film Carol three years ago. Kind of thought three years down the road they would have advanced their "praise be" thinking by now.— Pawlie Pockets (@PaulDon09592081) October 28, 2019
Wilde promptly condemned the move, and urged Delta, along with other airlines, to immediately restore the film to its original form. “I urge every airline, especially those who pride themselves on inclusivity, to stop working with this third party company, and trust the parental advisory warning to allow viewers to opt out if they choose,” she wrote. After reviewing the censored version of the film, she also shared the changes that were made to Booksmart for in-flight viewers.
“They muted or cut the word ‘vagina.’ VAGINA,” she wrote. “They removed Molly’s entire scissoring sequence. They Molly’s masturbating and UTI story (it didn’t end well). They cut the porn moment in the Lyft (our Oscar clip). They cut the second half of the animated doll sequence — because naked doll bodies – made for children – are too shocking even with no genitals. Speaking of which, they cut the word ‘genitals.’ Most disappointingly, they cut most of Amy and Hope’s love scene in the bathroom, which involves zero nudity, but does involve an essential plot point for a lead character.”
Wilde also noted that the censored version left in all of the profanity from the original version. “By the way, they didn’t cut ANY cursing. Every ‘fuck’ is heard loud and clear, sometimes in the same scene where they muted ‘vagina,'” she wrote. “They showed George (elegantly) deep-throating a microphone but couldn’t stomach a consensual love scene between two women.”
First of all, in order to select this movie from hundreds of options, you have to agree to a “parental advisory” that warns you that viewer discretion is advised. Once you click “proceed” it seems like you’ve agreed to watch the movie in its original form. Instead...— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) October 30, 2019
— They cut the second half of the animated doll sequence — because naked doll bodies - made for children - are too shocking even with no genitals. Speaking of which, they cut the word “genitals.”— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) October 30, 2019
By the way, they didn’t cut ANY cursing. Every “fuck” is heard loud and clear, sometimes in the same scene where they muted “vagina." 🤯. They showed George (elegantly) deep-throating a microphone but couldn’t stomach a consensual love scene between two women.— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) October 30, 2019
I urge every airline, especially those who pride themselves on inclusivity, to stop working with this third party company, and trust the parental advisory warning to allow viewers to opt out if they choose.— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) October 30, 2019
People were quick to condemn the move and joined Wilde in requesting a non-edited version of the film for in-flight viewing. In less than a week, the airline responded. It stated that the original versions of films like Booksmart and Rocketman will soon be available.
“We are immediately putting a new process in place for managing content available through Delta’s in-flight entertainment,” a Delta spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. “Studios often provide videos in two forms: a theatrical, original version and an edited version. We selected the edited version and now realize content well within our guidelines was unnecessarily excluded from both films. We are working to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Delta was sure to note that several other viewable in-flight films have non-edited LGBTQ love scenes. After the airline released its statement promising to restore the film, Wilde thanked it in a Tweet.
Hopefully, the pushback Delta received will discourage other airlines from instating similar censorship policies.
- Olivia Wilde bashes Delta for censored lesbian scenes
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Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.