Stop showing violent and sexually inappropriate in-flight movies and television programs on drop-down and bulkhead screens

By Sarah Coburn-Rothermel
This is a current petition on

Warning: This petition contains language unsuitable for children, as will, undoubtedly, the entertainment on your next flight.
A few years ago, before I was married with small children, I was flying somewhere and remember being shocked that the airline was showing “Revolutionary Road” on the drop-down screens throughout the airplane. Without headphones, I watched Kate Winslet have sex in a car, and later bleeding on the floor after attempting to give herself an abortion. I remember thinking, “Wow, if I had little kids or even teenagers, I would be pretty angry that this was playing in front of them.”

Now I am a mother of two small children and we fly together frequently. Last winter, on an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to JFK, we were seated in the bulkhead. There was no drop-down screen, but a large flat screen attached to the bulkhead over which we had no control. The movie selections on the 9-hour flight were inappropriate, to say the least. Spiderman is not exactly little-kid-friendly. I had to tell my then 3-year-old to close her eyes so that the monster wouldn’t scare her. The next movie was full of sexual scenes and domestic abuse. Following that was “2 Days in New York.” It is rated R. What angered me the most about this was that it was subtitled in English throughout much of the French dialogue. So a child who was not listening to the movie could still read the following lines (asterisks are mine):
“I’ll put up screens so you can jerk off in peace.”
“F**k yourself and not my ex-lovers. But no, you want a di*k that has been in my p*ssy.”
Offended? Yeah, me too. Now picture your child or grandchild reading this.
Yesterday, I was flying on a domestic American Airlines flight and had to close my eyes to avoid seeing bloody gunshot wounds on another crime scene drama playing right in my face. My question to the airlines and the companies that provide their entertainment packages is this: Why? Most of these planes are now installing individual movie screens, so why do you need to show inappropriate content overhead when we can choose what we watch at our own seats? What would happen if you chose to show Johnny Carson re-runs, or nature documentaries, or uplifitng human interest stories, or even G-rated Disney movies? Maybe some passengers would roll their eyes. Or maybe people would leave the plane smiling and a little lighter before re-entering a world that is already violent and stressful enough. All I ask is that we be given the opportunity to abstain.
This month we are remembering a nightmare of a December for America. We live in a place where every mother’s irrational fears have become rational. Regardless of where you stand in the gun control debate, I hope that you will agree that our children do not need any additional violent or stress-inducing images in their minds. The world will steal their innocence quickly enough. It would be wonderful if our airlines could help us in a small way to protect these precious eyes, minds, and hearts.
Please join me in asking these airlines and their entertainment providers to examine their inflight entertainment content and to be mindful of their youngest passengers — passengers who may be an annoyance to some, but who pay the same price for a ticket, and are paying a price far more costly.
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