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Flight phobia

Parents have long been aware that that the Motion Picture Association of America is more lax about airing on-screen violence than nudity. But in the past month, many have revived their scrutiny of the organization, questioning its parternship with airlines. Although in-flight content is reviewed and cut either by movie studios or the airlines themselves to make the films more universally appropriate, some parents claim that the edits are nowhere near sufficient.

In recent months, gory scenes in films like Fracture, Shooter and 300 have slipped onto the overhead screens, photographer and parent Jesse Kalisher states on his web site, kidsafefilms.org.


Kalisher and is wife launched the site this year in the hopes of attracting political attention to the situation.

 “I wouldn’t think twice about this stuff if I weren’t a parent,” he said. “But I am a parent, responsible for the safety of my kids, and I am not going to sit here and do nothing,” Kalisher told The New York Times.

 As early as September 25th, his plan yielded results: Representatives Heath Shuler, a Democrat, and Walter B. Jones Jr., a Republican, introduced the Family Friendly Flights Act bill. The law would require airlines to curtain off special sections where families with small children could sit without being able to see the overhead screens. Neither the bill, nor Kalisher’s proposition, pertains to individual screens.

 The Times reported:

 “We could care less what people watch on the personal video players,” Mr. Kalisher said. “Our emphasis is strictly on the publicly visible overhead screens. With a personal monitor, you can always move the kid.”

He and his wife said they were appalled recently on a Continental Airlines flight to see their children, ages 2 and 4, staring at a grossly violent scene from an R-rated—albeit edited—movie.

 “No kid wakes up in the middle of the night because he saw a couple making out on a screen. But our kids woke up screaming because they saw a mom shot in the face and stuffed in a body bag,” he said.

 According to Jeffery A. Smisek, the president of Continental, the scene had ended up in the edited version by mistake.

We at TONY Kids are all for Kalisher’s cause—flying is nerve-wracking enough for young children without inserting nightmarish images into the equation—and find it hard to understand why airlines can’t exercise healthy judgment with their in-flight entertainment.

Besides, making the case a federal issue is likely to be complicated.

According to the Times:

“Elinor Kinnier, a spokeswoman for [The World Airline Entertainment Association], said that while it thinks the critics have a point 'about not wanting their kids to see violence,' federal legislation isn’t necessary. 'Airlines can and do exercise care over what is shown on an overhead screen,' she said.”

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