One passenger onboard American Airlines was more than disappointed to find that the all too public viewing of “Black Swan” was being shown in flight – unedited.
While flying from New Delhi, India, to Chicago, Bill Perkins, the president of Million Mighty Men, couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the screen next to his: Natalie Portman engaging in lesbian sex scenes and other explicit acts.
When Perkins saw the movie offered on the American Airlines flight, he assumed the sex scenes would be eliminated, which proved not to be the case.
“The problem was that I wasn’t the one watching it,” Perkins told The Christian Post. “It was my neighbor who was not more than two feet away from me, watching Natalie Portman doing her thing. That doesn’t seem like it’s a very family friendly environment.”
Perkins, who has flown over 2.3 million miles with American Airlines and is the author of several Christian books, expressed his discontentment with their in-flight media philosophy and left a complaint on the airlines’ customer service comment page. (American Airlines offers no direct phone number to contact with customer complaints.)
After receiving an automated response at first, the airlines later contacted him via email responding, “We take the issue of in-flight movie content very seriously.
“We require the movie studios to edit movies to remove inappropriate scenes and language to make them acceptable for general viewing before we will agree to show them. In fact, our edit standards are more stringent than those used by the television networks when they edit movies for television audiences.”
But it appeared as if the airlines did not abide by their own policy with “Black Swan.” Unsure if what he saw was the edited version, Perkins could not imagine those scenes being in any way deemed appropriate.
“What if I had been a child?” asked Perkins. “And what about the children who did watch it? I don’t think any parent would want their child to be watching those kinds of images.”
Considering the lack of passenger privacy and space available in an airplane cabin, censorship seemed necessary, especially with children able to see not only the screens next to them, but in between the seats from behind as well.
Hoping that the airline would take their own policy advice and regulate what is being shown on the airplanes, Perkins is asking the public to take the necessary steps to make the airline and other airlines family friendly.
The teaching pastor also desires airlines to become more culturally sensitive to those who come from a more modest background. Over half of the people on his flight were from India and alcohol was not even served on some of their airlines.
“It’s almost as if American Airlines couldn’t wait to baptize their passengers in the sexual values of our country,” the author of When Good Men Are Tempted declared.
Motivated to start taking action after speaking on the subject of anger at one of his conferences, Perkins stated, “Anger has been used historically to accomplish great good when channeled in the right direction.”
“I’m really angry,” remarked Perkins to CP. “I made a decision if I didn’t hear from [American Airlines] that I was going to be really aggressive to get the message out and [have] people who care complain and put pressure on them so they would adopt their own policy.
“I feel a responsibility to let the public know that American Airlines and possibly others need to be encouraged to put in place a policy of media on these airplanes that is going to be family friendly.”
The only advice offered to parents on the American Airlines website is to pack an audio headset for their children to use during flight, with no mention of any channel-blocking measures or warnings issued for films containing foul language and graphic scenes.
“I’m under the opinion that if somebody wants to watch a movie in the privacy of their own home or in a theater they can watch whatever they want to watch,” expressed the Oregon pastor. “I’m only talking about in an environment where people are locked into an airplane for [an extended period of time] and can’t get up and move anywhere.”
Ironically, earlier in the ‘90s, according to Roger Ebert, American and Delta flights were accused of making too many edits to films, rather than too little. For example, director Robert Mulligan went so far as to take his name off of his film, “The Man in the Moon,” after airlines demanded “excessive and unreasonable cuts and changes.”
An additional six minutes were taken out of the film, with none of the kids able to say “hell” or “damn,” while anything that resembled nudity of any kind was cut out.
So what happened between then and now? Ongoing controversy and lawsuits over revenue between editing movie companies and a number of Hollywood studios and directors could be a contributing factor to the lack of in-flight censorship. Or perhaps the culture has become increasingly desensitized to violence, sex, and profanity.
The result? R-rated movies like “Black Swan,” available on mini screens in-flight everywhere, for all the … plane to see, whether you want to or not.
Perkins has yet to hear from American Airlines about what actions they will take to make their airline a more family friendly place, despite their claims for “improved customer satisfaction.”
A corporate responsibility to give their customers, once onboard, “a safe and dependable travel experience” as claimed by their website, one can only hope that AA will be responsible for all of their own policies and practice what they preach.
To help AA get on their way towards that goal, Perkins is encouraging people to fax a complaint or fill out a complaint on their customer service portion of their website.
“If we don’t act, their current policy may become the standard on all airlines,” Perkins concluded.