The director of a new film about two High School best friends on the night before their graduation has hit out at Delta Air Lines after it was revealed the airline had cut a lesbian love scene in an edited version of the movie playing on its in-flight entertainment system. Booksmart director, Olivia Wilde told Variety magazine on the red carpet at Sunday night’s Academy’s Governor’s Award that her “heart just broke” after learning of Delta’s decision.
Starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, the movie tells the story of “two academic superstars and best friends who realize they should have worked less and played more,” according to the film review site IMDB. “Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night,” the synopsis continues.
The film has received critical acclaim and is currently averaging a user score of 7.3 out of 10 on IMDb.
Wilde did not publicly out Delta as the airline at the centre of this controversy but Twitter users soon identified the Atlanta-based airline as being responsible. Delta has denied the inclusion of homosexual love scenes was a “parameter” that would warrant a scene being cut but could not immediately explain why Booksmart was edited in this way.
Both the lesbian love scene and a kiss between the two lead characters were cut from the in-flight version being shown on Delta’s planes. Meanwhile, two other kissing scenes between heterosexual couples were not cut from the edited version.
“We’re on the case to get this rectified. Our movie is a beautiful representation of the queer experience as young people,” commented Feldstein who star’s as Molly in the movie.
“It’s ridiculous,” Dever said of the situation. “I don’t even know what to say to that. That makes me so mad,” she continued.
“Delta’s content parameters do not in any way ask for the removal of homosexual content from the film,” Delta said in a statement reported by NBC News. “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,” the statement continued.
According to Delta, the airline is normally presented with two versions of a film before it’s approved and loaded onto its in-flight entertainment system – one is a completely unedited version, while the other is edited by a third-party company to remove potentially upsetting scenes. If there’s anything in the unedited version that falls foul of Delta’s guideline then the edited version is immediately used.
A spokesperson for the airline couldn’t say what scene in the uncut version of Booksmart led to the airline using the edited version.
Delta has long identified with supporting LGBTQ causes and supporting inclusivity and equality in the workplace. The airline sponsors a number of high-profile Pride events around the world and funds several LGBTQ support organisations. One of its most recent advertising campaigns also featured what appeared to be a homosexual couple – not the first time that airline has featured same-sex couples in its advertising.