Saturday, September 01, 2007

When libertarians say "Parents just have to be responsible for what their kids watch . . ."

have you sometimes wondered whether it was a transparently sleazy cop-out by people who are actually trying day and night to make sure your kids watch trash? Well, wonder no more, Eric Kleiman, director of product marketing for Continental Airlines demonstrates that yes, it is a transparently sleazy cop-out.

Mr. Kleiman was contacted by Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times about the issue of increasingly violent and/or salacious content as found on in-flight movies. Let's just remember you can't "just turn it off" on an in-flight movie. You can't "exercise your role as a responsible parent by controlling the remote" or whatever other phrase it is that sanctimonious libertines use these days. If you chose to make a long flight, you are stuck with having whatever is presented on the screen in full view of you, and any accompanying children, no matter how young. Here's how Mr. Kleiman responds:

“Parents have to be responsible for the actions of their kids — whether they shouldn’t look at the screen or look away,” said Eric Kleiman, director of product marketing for Continental Airlines.

Mr. Kleiman said the changing tenor of airline entertainment was in keeping with the changing standards of network television and other media. “Our approach is consistent with where society is going with this,” he said.

And here's Nina Plotner, another believer that all of must imbibe sleaze (a.k.a. "good things"), whether we like it or not:

Nina Plotner, an account manager with Inflight Productions Inc., which works on behalf of many airlines to review and acquire films, said of the editing procedure, “If we take all the good things out, there’s not going to be a lot left to play.”

Ms. Plotner added: “If you get a complaint, you get a complaint. You can’t please everybody.”

Mr. Kleiman, of Continental, agreed, saying: “People love Pepsi, and we don’t serve that, so there you go, we just ruined their flight. That’s an accurate analogy.” Airlines said they received relatively few complaints.

To which the experience of this couple is a good retort.

Thomas Fine and Sara Susskind of Cambridge, Mass., recently spent two hours on a United Airlines flight distracting their 6-year-old son, Zachary, from the R-rated “Shooter,” which depicts multiple gory killings. [Like shooting his wife in the face and the blood pouring out. Just lovely. Oops, no, that's in "Fracture," which has also been shown on TV with just a little editing.] The sound of gunshots from nearby earphones alerted Zachary to look up, Mr. Fine said. “It’s not like he can look away when he hears the sound, and he’s sitting on a plane bored, and he’s 6,” Mr. Fine said.

Obviously, Mr. Fine, you are a stupid irresponsible father! Stop trying to palm off your failures as a parent on society!

Near the end of the article there is some promised deus ex machina about individual screens. And I know, someone's bound to say, "See? It's all the fault of capitalism! If we just raise taxes on the super-rich, society would be squeaky clean!" Actually, the most salacious in-flight programing I ever saw was on a (state-owned, very much non-profit, heavily subsidized) China Airlines flight. But you know what? The problem isn't the lack of individual screens. It isn't whether the airlines are state-owned or privately owned. It's inside the heads of people like Nina Plotner and Eric Kleiman (and whoever choses movies for Chinese Airlines), and how their meretricious tastes get formed.

Probably by watching in-flight movies as kids.