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United Airlines Edits 9/11 Reference

British Airways has been in the news recently for editing Sir Richard Branson (and his airline Virgin Atlantic) out of its in-flight version of Casino Royale. But United Airlines has done something that I find more curious to its in-flight version of the same film.

While flying back home from London on United earlier today, I had Casino Royale playing on my video monitor. There was, of course, all the editing one would expect, though even sillier than I would have thought, as if they were trying to make Bond into a Saturday morning cartoon. But amidst the edits of violence and sexuality, both large and small, there was another edit that I found much stranger.

Note that spoilers follow.

In the film, the villain Le Chiffre takes out put options on an airliner manufacturer, "Skyfleet", intending to destroy the prototype of the company's new passenger jet, sending its stock plummeting and making a fortune for himself. Bond foils the plot, the puts expire, and Le Chiffre loses over $100 million (though Bond is unaware of this larger plot at the time). The next day, M (played by Judi Dench) talks with Bond (played by Daniel Craig). This dialogue is from the DVD version of the movie:

M: When they analyzed the stock market after 9/11, the CIA discovered a massive shorting of airline stocks. When the stocks hit bottom on 9/12, somebody made a fortune. The same thing happened this morning with Skyfleet stock, or was supposed to. With their prototype destroyed, the company would be near bankruptcy.
Here's the same stretch of dialogue in United's in-flight version:
M: When they analyzed the stock market this morning, the CIA discovered a massive shorting of Skyfleet stocks. With their prototype destroyed, the company would be near bankruptcy.
Am I the only one who's curious about this? From what, exactly, is United trying to protect its passengers?

The most generous explanation I can imagine is that as an airline, United doesn't want to remind its passengers of a terrorist incident that involved two of its airplanes. And in that context, I can see why no airline would want to show a movie like United 93 or World Trade Center. But a momentary reference that doesn't mention any specific airline?

There's another possibility, less favorable to United: that they believe the concept of 9/11 to be controversial and edited out the reference because of this. It would be as if they edited out film references to the Holocaust because not everyone believes in it, or because some people believe it was justified. I truly hope this isn't the case.

(As a side note, according to the 9/11 Commission (via Snopes), the shorting described by M didn't take place.)


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