G for gee whiz
Question: I recently flew from Amsterdam to Minneapolis with my 6-year-old son next to me. During the flight, I decided to watch an in-flight show Delta listed as G-rated. You can imagine my shock when the screen portrayed a man and a woman engaged in enthusiastic sexual intercourse. I turned it off quickly. It turned out this was an episode of Showtime’s “Weeds,” listed on its website as containing “rape, nudity, violence, graphic language” and “adult content.” I’m a responsible parent. Shouldn’t Delta and other airlines be responsible as well?
-- Johanna McCarthy, Minneapolis
Answer: They should and Delta wasn’t, it acknowledged later.
At first, Delta spokesman Paul R. Skrbec was skeptical. “That particular series is TV-MA and does have a content advisory,” he said. “I tell you that with a great certainty.”
But McCarthy provided photos showing the directory screen that listed Showtime’s series as G-rated — programming that included “Weeds” (dope selling), “Dexter” (serial killing), “Nurse Jackie” (adulterous, drug-addicted care giving) and " Californication” (um, yeah).
After Skrbec saw the pictures, he queried Delta’s product manager for in-flight entertainment and issued a second statement:
“Delta apologizes for the labeling error with the TV-MA-associated ratings. ... We are taking immediate action to correct this error and correctly label the content. Delta’s policy is to provide content warnings for all films with an MPAA rating of PG, PG-13 and R, and for television with a rating of TV-PG, TV-14 and TV-MA. ...We thank the customer for bringing this matter to our attention. ...”
The question may be whether such content should be shown at all.
I asked L.A. Times TV critic Mary McNamara — a mom of young children who travels with them internationally — about it, and she wrote, “I am kind of shocked they show ‘Weeds’ on an airline. … The sex in ‘Weeds’ is graphic and fairly drawn out.”
Barack Levin, author of “The Diaper Chronicles: A Stay-at-Home Dad’s Quest to Raising Great Kids,” takes his own DVD player on his frequent international travels with his 4- and 6-year-old and shows only movies he knows are OK.
“If I notice that my kids are watching something that is inappropriate,” he said, “I calmly tell them it is time to change a channel. ... If they ask for explanations … I simply provide a short and basic explanation … and the whole incident is over. I found out that with such easy-to-follow steps the kids eventually lose their interest in content they do not understand and focus on the stuff that talks to them. They learn by themselves how to control what they want to watch.”
And Delta, it appears, needs to control what it shows. Maybe we don’t all want to watch the Disney Channel, but couldn’t we leave the dope dealers and the serial killers on the ground?
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