There are three things you need to know about Game of Thrones.
First, it’s incredibly popular, with each episode generating enormous buzz in the real world and online alike.
Second: that popularity extends to Game of Thrones being the world’s most pirated TV show (more than one million people downloaded the Season 3 finale the day after it screened), although you can also download it through legitimate means via Apple’s iTunes Store.
Finally, this TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s best-selling multi-volume fantasy epic includes quite a bit of full-frontal nudity.
It also happens that Game of Thrones is a hit with travellers, who queue up the latest episodes on their laptop or tablet as ‘BYO inflight entertainment’.
In turn, that raises the issue of what’s appropriate inflight viewing in this day when passengers no longer rely on an airline’s own selection of movies piped to small seatback screens.
In the closed confines of an aircraft cabin your seatmates, across-the-aisle neighbours and others walking back and forth can see what you’re watching. Should you take them into consideration when planning your personal in-flight viewing?
After all, many an airlines’ own choice of inflight programming includes graphic violence as well as degrees of nudity.
If that’s accepted as a benchmark, shouldn’t passengers be able to choose BYO content to a similar degree?
Here’s how a number of frequent flyers see the issue.
Sydney engineer Gordon Noble says he’s recently become a Game of Thrones convert “and have been taking every spare minute to watch this brilliant fantasy medieval series.”
However, he allows that “as a responsible travelling adult, I chose not to watch Game of Thrones in case my viewing material offended other passengers."
“But what if I had chosen to watch Game of Thrones in all of its violent and nude glory?” he asks. “Would it be the responsibility of the flight attendants to become censors and tell me to turn it off, or does it become the responsibility of other passengers to ask me to turn it off directly?”
Brisbane-based financial planner Lindsay Wilson suggests that Game of Thrones and similar shows would be “appropriate if you take the correct precautions”.
This can include sitting a window seat in economy, where you can angle your iPad slightly towards the window “so as to shield from fellow passengers, particularly given the higher percentage of kids in economy.
“I've sheepishly skipped forward through a scenes in Game of Thrones while onboard” admits Sydney production designer Richard Neville, who adds that failing to do so has sometimes resulted in “glaring looks of disapproval in economy”.
“On the other hand, it’s started conversations with fellow travellers and cabin crew in business class!”
My screen, my choice...
Not all travellers side with those who advocate a degree of self-censorship.
“If someone doesn't like what's showing on my screen, they should stop looking at my screen” states Canberra consultant Tuhin Abhyankar, who reasons there is no need “to change my viewing habits to meet the arbitrary standards others on a sealed metal tube might adhere to.”
“I didn’t hesitate at watching a few series of True Blood on my last few US trips, which were in economy and premium economy” adds Sydney-based Grant Williams.
“There are definitely quite a few death and sex scenes in them which I didn't have a problem if anyone had seen them. It’s my personal space and my choice.”
“The old 'eyes forward' rule should also come into play.”
For Simon Granville, who takes at least two domestic flights each week, it’s more a matter of avoiding inflight angst from other passengers.
“I am not worried about offending anyone. I am more worried about some do-gooder busy-body thinking that they have a right to be offended whilst snooping at what I am watching. I just don't want the debate.”
When kids are your seatmates...
For many, the decision of what to watch on your laptop or tablet is also driven by who your seatmate is.
“If you're seated next to a 10 year old kiddie who doesn't know better than to gawk at the screen (thus getting Mum and/or Dad concerned), then maybe watch something else” reasons IT consultant Chris Mainland. “You can still watch Game of Thrones later”
“But if you're in a position where any adult has to be actively and deliberately looking at your iPad screen in order to be offended, then go for it!”.
Newcastle-based medical professional Fiona Downes says she's "working my way through American Horror Story" as she travels within Australia and overseas for conferences.
“I try to be as discreet as I can with positioning my iPad at graphic scenes. If I found myself sitting next to a minor, however, I'd switch to something rated at an appropriate level for them in case they would start watching beside me.”
“But as far as I'm concerned as long as I'm watching mainstream TV shows or films then pretty much anything goes.”
What’s your take on ‘appropriate inflight viewing’ on laptops or tablets? Do you select your viewing with an eye towards fellow passengers, or is it a case of "my seat, my screen, my choice”?
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