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In Booksmart, best friends Amy and Molly spent their whole high school lives playing it safe and by the rules, until they decide to let loose and have one brash and hilarious night out. The critically-acclaimed teen comedy is defined by exploration… including one pivotal scene regarding Kaitlyn Dever’s Amy having her first sexual experience with Diana Silvers’ Hope. It’s refreshingly genuine and awkward moment in Booksmart. Yet, it has been cut from some in-flight viewings of the film. Booksmart director Olivia Wilde is not happy about it. Here’s what she said:
I don’t understand it. There’s censorship, airline to airline, of films, which there must be some kind of governing board to determine. We rate it a certain way. If it’s not X-rated, surely it’s acceptable on an airplane.
Olivia Wilde was alerted of the censorship via Twitter on Sunday, when one user reported that her flight cut the entire sex scene, while all heterosexual kisses were left in. Another user flying with Delta shared that the word “lesbian” was also removed during her screening of Booksmart. Olivia Wilde responded, calling news of this “batshit insane”.
Not to mention the hookup scene in question does not feature any nudity and heterosexual sex scenes are readily viewed on the same flights. Olivia Wilde continued to share her thoughts at the Academy’s Governors Awards red carpet Sunday:
There’s insane violence of bodies being smashed in half and yet a love scene between two women is censored from the film. It’s such an integral part of this character’s journey. I don’t understand it. My heart just broke. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it; I want people to experience the entire film.
At the event, Variety spoke to the film’s main stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever who were shocked at the news. Here is their reactions:
Beanie: We’re on the case. We’re on the case to get this rectified. Our movie is a beautiful representation of the queer experience as young people. I’m a queer person, so we’re getting to the bottom of it. Don’t worry!
Kaitlyn: Ah, that makes me so mad. Well… we’ll get to the bottom of it.
Beanie: If Olivia Wilde is on the case something will happen – she’s a powerful woman.
The specific Booksmart censorship seems to reveal a bias toward lesbian women above the inclusion of sexual content. Since the mention of Delta Airlines was prevalent during the online discourse, the airline made a statement explaining they didn’t specifically request for the word “lesbian” to be removed from the movie. Delta said they work with studios and a third-party editing company to meet its in-flight content guidelines – but declined to release their standards.
Delta assured its parameters “do not in any way ask for the removal of homosexual content” and said it would “review our processes to ensure edited video content doesn’t conflict with these values” in light of the outcry. This isn’t the first instance Delta has censored key lesbian moments on film. Back in 2016, comedian Cameron Esposito pointed out the airline’s massive shifts to Oscar-contender Carol. Check it out:
Cutting sex scenes is one thing but Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Carol didn’t get the luxury of a kiss for the in-flight version either. Considering Carol is a film by definition centering on two women's romance, this is especially shocking. Edits such as this sacrifice the integrity of the movie as intended. Not to mention the inclusion of a BDSM scene being deemed appropriate on the seat next to her instead.
On the upside, fans can watch Booksmart in its uncut glory on Hulu starting November 18 as the Booksmart director gets to the bottom of this double-standard censorship.