Never Mind the Mile High Club

The unusual things that parents must protect their children from never cease to amaze me. Maybe that’s because I don’t have kids… anyway, now this: R-rated movies wallpapering the insides of commercial airplanes. Eeek! Mommy why did that scary man cut off the pretty lady’s head?!

There’s no excusing parents that have a choice and refuse to control what their kids watch. But how do you turn off dozens of non-repositionable video screens? Here again is the intersection of individual freedoms and responsibility to the public. It’s a theme I’ll write about repeatedly. Ostensibly, in choosing in-flight movies airlines are merely following the consumer trend toward more violence and sex in films. The fact that FCC regulations and MPAA rating guidelines don’t apply to them creates an awesome burden to placate both parents and single adult passengers. However, since “asses in seats” equate to “brass in pocket”, many airlines continue to show material unsuitable for children.

Chapel Hill, NC photographer, Jesse Kalisher created kidsafefilms.org to address the issue. This informative website offers a place for like-minded parents to vent and sign a petition asking for Congressional action. While making it clear that the responsibility to fix this problem lies with the airlines, Kalisher doesn’t advocate for the outright censorship of in-flight movies. But he and nearly 5800 others to date agree that publicly viewable material needs to be appropriate for all of the viewing public.

The argument immediately reminded me of Tipper Gore’s (and the PRMC’s) fight to label explicit content in popular music. Perhaps the most benign aim of the PRMC, compulsory labeling was an uphill battle at the time. Now the black and white stickers are commonplace, accepted, and frankly quite useful. Most importantly, the stickers haven’t stopped the suggestive lyrics of the mid-80s from growing into the unabated declarations of hatred, violence, disrespect toward women, rampant drug use and consequence-free sex we enjoy today! Millions of CDs and downloads still occur, so it seems labeling is a win-win for all concerned.

In time and with the Congressional pressure Kalisher seeks, this conflict too will hopefully reach a conclusion that benefits all involved.

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