Sunday, September 09, 2007

Frightened in Flight

We’ve just come back from Luxembourg on Ryanair, an airline that obviously believes its customers all have very short legs, and don’t need any space in front of them to do anything – such as letting down the tray to put the laptop on. And because the flights are short they don’t have anything like inflight entertainment – unless you count things like lotto tickets being sold, or having to pay large prices for a cup of coffee.

The Korean flights we came to England on had movies, as I’ve written elsewhere. There was no choice on the first leg of the trip, but on the second leg we were able to choose from a very wide range, and watch the movies on the little screen on the back of the seat in front, rather than on a screen set up high on the cabin wall.

I hadn’t considered something that’s just come to my attention: when the movie is chosen for you, and when you have children with you, they can be exposed to a surprising amount of violence that they probably wouldn’t see at home.

In an article entitled Young Fliers See the Film, Be It PG or R, by Bob Tedeschi (it appeared in the HeraldTribune), the writer considers the complaints of parents regarding films they have to sit through on some flights, and the seeming inability of those in charge of showing the movies to understand the parents’ concerns.

According to one Mr Kleiman, director of product marketing for Continental Airlines, parents need to be responsible for what their children watch while flying. Right: as if a parent is going to be able to take their child somewhere else on the plane.

Mr Kleiman also says that what’s shown on flights is consistent with what’s shown elsewhere in the media.

In the last two years the percentage of R-rated movies has jumped, and more graphic and violent movies are being shown.

Yet Nina Plotner, an account manager with Inflight Productions Inc., which works on behalf of many airlines to review and acquire films, said, in regard to editing movies so that they remove the graphic material, “If we take all the good things out, there’s not going to be a lot left to play.” And she added, “If you get a complaint, you get a complaint. You can’t please everybody.”

Mr. Kleiman, ever the public relations man explained:: “People love Pepsi, and we don’t serve that, so there you go, we just ruined their flight. That’s an accurate analogy.” Yes, we understand you entirely, Mr Kleiman.

I can remember as a child being kept awake by the thought that a mummy was walking down the corridor in my home – not my mummy, I hasten to add. This was after I’d seen Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, which by today’s standards was no doubt innocuous.

But compare that to King Kong, where people are eaten alive by some very nasty monsters, and try and explain to a child that it’s all okay.

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