Delta’s in-flight screenings of Rocketman cut almost all LGBTQ content in this biopic of one of the most famously gay celebrities of all time. Can they just let us live already?
Delta Airlines is at it again, y’all. In a weird move that feels relatively sudden, Delta has begun to censor recent LGBTQ films that play on its flights. They are actively choosing to play the films, but not any of the gay parts.
Earlier this past month, Olivia Wilde’s breakout teen comedy, Booksmart, fell victim to this when Delta cut the lesbian kiss scene from its in-flight showings, despite the fact that this is a very important scene in regard to character development and plot. Delta also decided to cut out as many gay references as possible from their showings of Rocketman. Which would mean that, in a weird power move, the airline wanted to see if they could cut down the biopic about the life of musician Elton John down to two minutes.
We are nearing the end of the year 2019, and apparently there are still people who might not have heard that Elton John is gay. I suppose they’re the hypothetical people Delta is protecting here.
This bout of censorship came to light when Entertainment Weekly Digital Director Shana Krochmal decided to enjoy Rocketman on a flight this week. Upon realizing that some pretty crucial elements to the story were missing, she shared this on her Twitter account.
“On Delta today, discovered that Rocketman is stripped of almost every gay reference or scene that [Elton John] fought to keep in the film’s mainstream release, including a simple chaste kiss,” Krochmal wrote on her Twitter.
On @Delta today discovered that #Rocketman is stripped of almost every gay reference or scene that @eltonofficial fought to keep in the film’s mainstream release, including a simple chaste kiss. This ⬇️ is good context but it’s still frustrating. https://t.co/4CY4Tl8PHh— shana (@shananaomi) October 30, 2019
She also noted that the scene where John Reid assaults John was left in its entirety. There are a lot of jokes that we could continue to make about the fact that Delta allowed this to be an option to be streamed, despite completely stripping the bread and butter of the film from the streaming version. But the fact that the scene of Reid harming John was left in with no question is really no laughing matter.
What exactly are we saying here? It has been noted a thousand times by so many people that, with the advent of smartphones and iPads, people watch all kinds of significantly more graphic things out in public where anyone can see — and yet, it always seems that seeing two consenting adults who love each other and happen to share the same gender is where the line is drawn. Meanwhile, of course, violence against those same people is perfectly acceptable.
A spokesperson for the airline did speak to Pink News in regard to Krochmal’s tweet, and stated that not only do they not do the editing, they just play whatever edited version the studio sends, but they do not specifically ask for the removal of LGBTQ content.
“We value diversity and inclusion as core to our culture and our mission and will review our processes to ensure edited video content doesn’t conflict with these values,” a spokesperson for Delta told Pink News.
In their own coverage of this incident, Advocate quoted a 2017 interview in which a Delta spokesperson had told their publication at the time that “Delta has committed to not showing a film at all when an edited version is required but goes beyond omitting explicit material to remove scenes that reflect the diversity of our employees and customers.” Advocate then pointed out that such a policy, if followed, would have prevented the screening of a “degayed” Rocketman. And yet.
To bring it back around — we are nearing the end of the year 2019, and people are still uncomfortable when two consenting adults kiss or show any kind of affection, simply because they happen to be LGBTQ. This is where we are. Still.
For every step we take, things like this pull us two steps back, and make sure we continue to “sleep with one eye open,” reinforcing that traumatic thought process that is ingrained in us in varying ways.
Every day, incidents like this remind us that we still have to prove ourselves legitimate in the eyes of some. Until things like Elton John kissing his husband, or two teen girls holding hands, become normalized to the point that no one cares anymore, there is still going to be ground to cover in the fight for LGBTQ rights.
Top Photo: Paramount Pictures