This in-flight film is not yet rated

Lisa Napoli Mar 21, 2007

This in-flight film is not yet rated

Lisa Napoli Mar 21, 2007


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: For almost 40 years the movie industry has rated films. The idea is to give parents a heads up about the content of a movie so they know what to expect. But what about the films that aren’t playing in theaters? Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli reports on a new movement to regulate those movies not playing on a theater near you.

LISA NAPOLI: After the screen dropped down in the airplane cabin on a recent trip he was taking, Jesse Kalisher couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

JESSE KALISHER: SUV-sized insects attacking people, people getting shot. Somebody about to get clubbed to death in the head. You know, just the moment when the club’s about to come down and smash this guy’s skull in, the person doing the clubbing gets shot and killed.

Kalisher wasn’t worried for himself. He was worried about his kids, aged 1 and 3.

KALISHER: You know, once a child sees something, you can’t take it back.

Kalisher and his wife started doing research. They found out that films usually get edited before they air on planes. You’d never see a plane crash in a movie you’d see in-flight, and you wouldn’t probably see nudity or sex or hear profanity.

But different airlines have different standards and that means not everything you see on a plane is rated G.

Rob Brookfield is a spokesman for the World Airline Entertainment Association.

ROB BROOKFIELD: Editing is fairly conservative. It’s typically more conservative than TV editing standards. And that’s for the reason that there may well be children watching, even if parents opt not to let them listen on the headphones. They’re still subject to see something on screen.

But, Brookfield says, editing out everything from a film raises another problem for the airlines.

BROOKFIELD: They’re sort of in a tough position. Because they will get as many passengers who say, ‘why did you edit this out’ as passengers who said, ‘why did you leave that in?’

And that’s exactly why Jesse Kalisher recently launched an online petition to lobby Congress to make standards for films in the skies.

JESSE KALISHER: Going to a movie theater, we have a choice to bring our children or not bring our children. The difference now is when you walk into an airplane, an airplane now takes away my ability as a parent to control the images that my children see.

The airline industry says eventually, every seat will be equipped with a personal entertainment screen. But that’s at least several years away.

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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