Did you ever catch it on a plane?

By Christopher Luu
Oct 30, 2019 @ 6:30 pm

If you saw Booksmart at the movies, you got a very different experience from anyone who managed to catch the movie 30,000 feet up in the air. Olivia Wilde, who directed the film, posted a string of tweets explaining that Delta Airlines used a third-party censor that was supposed to edit the dialogue to remove profanity, but cut out important parts of the film along with it.

During a talk at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, Wilde said that she felt her film was subject to sexist bias, because many of the scenes that were cut involved women's sexuality and scenes that she saw as "boys behaving lewdly" were kept without an issue. The Cut notes that several same-sex scenes were removed, as well.

George Pimentel/Getty Images

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"What we discovered is that on certain planes, this film has been edited in a very slanted manner. That there are certain words and certain scenes that are cut out, that aren’t the swear words. It's 'fuck, fuck, fuck' all day, but they removed the word 'masturbation,' they removed the word 'vagina,'" Wilde said during the Q&A. "So I'm just curious what a woman is supposed to take from that. That it's an obscenity. That it's inappropriate. You can say 'fuck, fuck, fuck" [...] But you can't show the Barbie sequence when they take off their Barbie clothes and have Barbie boobs, which by design, have no genitals, which is the entire fucking point of the scene."

She urged other female filmmakers to review the airline edits of their films, because she had no idea what was happening to her movie before it was approved for airline use.

"I think it's like, make movies that are, you know, authentic, and talk about real things," she said. "And then protect those movies and don't let anybody censor you."

She elaborated on Twitter, noting that words such as "UTI" were cut along with scenes that involved no nudity and pushed the plot along. She stated that the reason for the edits was probably due to the fact that the scene involved two women. She also added that before viewers could elect to view the film, they had to acknowledge a parental advisory.

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Back in 2012, director Robert Mulligan took his name off the film The Man in the Moon after American Airlines and Delta edited his movie. According to Roger Ebert, the film that aired on planes listed the director as R. Duffy.

"The airlines demanded so many excessive and unreasonable cuts and changes that I took my name off the film," Mulligan said after he saw the edits. "It's the first time I've ever done that."

Mulligan added that he doesn't mind the airline policy of cutting nudity and profanity. What they did to his movie just went too far.

"But now the airlines are going far beyond that," he said. "What they're doing falls somewhere between the ridiculous and outright censorship."

Mulligan's situation made headlines because of how rare it is for anyone to mention the airline cuts of films, mostly because legally, they can't. 

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Roger Ebert notes that "revenues from sales to airlines are an important source of income for Hollywood, and most contracts for in-flight films include a clause in which the studios or filmmakers agree to make no public statements about alterations to their work."

Wilde may not have read the fine print — or she simply doesn't care. Either way, it's clear that something has to change.

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