Delta to investigate after Olivia Wilde slammed in-flight censorship of 'Booksmart'

Wilde, who directed the film, criticized airlines for showing a version of the film that edited out storylines about female and queer sexuality.
By Doha Madani

Delta Air Lines is reviewing the process that allowed a lesbian sex scene to be cut from the film "Booksmart" after Olivia Wilde called out the censorship on flights.

Wilde, who made her directorial debut with "Booksmart," spoke out on the issue over the weekend while on the red carpet at the Academy's Governors Awards. In a Twitter thread Wednesday, Wilde said she learned the censorship went far beyond the sex scene and that airlines use third-party vendors to edit entertainment.

"I finally had the chance to watch an edited version of Booksmart on a flight to see exactly what had been censored," Wilde wrote. "Turns out some airlines work with a third party company that edits the movie based on what they deem inappropriate. Which, in our case, is ... female sexuality?"

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The 35-year-old actor and director said the edited version of the film also cut the words "vagina" and "genitals," a female masturbation scene, an animated sequence where the main characters turned into naked dolls, and a scene where the two teenage girls watched porn.

"What message is this sending to viewers and especially to women? That their bodies are obscene? That their sexuality is shameful?" Wilde said.

Though Delta was never mentioned by name, social media users called out the airline in particular.

Delta said in a statement Thursday that it did not ask for any "homosexual content" to be removed from the film.

"We value our inflight entertainment options as a means to reflect the diversity of the world," the company said. "We are reviewing the processes of our third-party editing vendors to ensure that they are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion."

Representatives for Wilde did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Delta's decision.

The international airline has previously been criticized for its in-flight version of "Rocketman," the Elton John biopic, for failing to include any reference to the singer's sexual orientation.

In a separate instance of "Rocketman" censorship, the film was edited to exclude references to homosexuality and drug use for Russian audiences.

A statement from John and the filmmakers said "that the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended, is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people."

Ryan Ruggiero, CNBC contributed.