Should films on planes be censored?

“FLYING’S very dangerous. In 1987, there were 30 airline accidents; 211 were fatalities and 230 were definitely passengers.” When “Rain Man” was released in 1988, airlines edited this scene out of the film before showing it to passengers. The deleted segment was important to the plot—it explains why Raymond and Charlie drive cross-country rather than use more convenient modes of transport. Still, airlines’ squeamishness is hardly surprising. Despite Tom Cruise’s assurances that air travel is “the safest…in the world”, flyers prefer not to be reminded of the one-in-11m chance that they might die. To this day, airlines avoid playing the scene on shared screens. (Only Qantas allowed it to be shown: Raymond lists it as the only airline to have never crashed.)

If aeroplane-disaster flicks such as “Sully” (2016, pictured above) and “Flight” (2012) are obviously unsuitable for in-flight entertainment, what do carriers look for when offering a film? On short-haul flights with shared screens, the goal is to find something that might appeal to everybody. That is a tough task. In his book on censorship, Michael Cornick argues that “terrorism, nudity or sex…Continue reading

from Business and finance


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