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Violent movies raise concern in Congress

By Staff
Does it take an act of Congress to protect children from violent movies?
Apparently so.
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced the Family Friendly Flights Act on Tuesday. On the surface, nobody can argue that young children shouldn’t have to watch R-rated movies. We just question if it takes an act of Congress to prevent it.
Some of the credit for Tuesday’s action goes to Katie Kelley. Her children, ages 4 and 7, weren’t on the plane with her when she flew to San Francisco last February when an R-rated, in-flight movie was shown. It bothered her. So, Kelley complained to the airline. A few weeks later, she said, the airline responded by saying an unedited version of the movie had been accidentally show. That explanation didn’t satisfy Kelley.
Others agree.
The bill calls for the creation of sections on commercial flights where movie screens could not be viewed by passengers in those sections. It would allow airlines to continue showing the movies they choose on screens located in other sections, as well as on individual screens, Shuler said.
Kelly isn’t alone with her concerns. There is Jesse Kalisher. The 45-year-old photographer from Chapel Hill also has lobbied airlines to self-regulate movie content, but Kalisher says responses have been few and unsatisfactory. Kalisher has launched a Web site (http://www.kidsafefilms.org) to generate support for restrictions on airline movies.
Kalisher isn’t asking the airlines to air movies just for children.
It’s up to the airlines to determine which movies to show, said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a trade group.”
Many movies are edited for airlines, and they are not governed by the rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America. The content of most movies shown by US Airways would not receive a rating stronger than PG-13, said Valerie Wunder, a spokeswoman for the airline.
We don’t argue there is a valid issue here. We would urge parents to lobby the airlines to express their concerns. If enough people vote with their wallet and only book on airlines that do show a concern, then others will clearly follow. Southwest, for example, shows no films. On JetBlue, screens are the individual type.
Jones believes that isn’t enough.
Perhaps the threat of a law regulating in-flight movies may be enough to convince airlines to strengthen their policies. That’s our hope.