To be clear: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara do kiss each other in the should've-been 2015 Best Picture nominee Carol. Multiple times! Not that you would know that if you watched the movie on a Delta flight, given that the airline -- as confirmed in a report today over at AfterEllen -- chose to play an edited version of the 2015 Best Picture nominee on its in-flight system that cuts out all instances of kissing between the two lead characters, not to mention all "explicit" scenes of physical intimacy.

The matter was brought to the website's attention by out comedian Cameron Esposito, who tweeted her outrage after viewing Carol on a Delta flight and discovering that the title character (Blanchett) and her lover Therese's (Rooney Mara) lip-locks didn't make the cut:

Indeed, many who viewed the film for the first time whilst flying the airline have since come out to confess that the seeming lack of physical intimacy between the two women struck them as a creative choice made by the film's director Todd Haynes rather than a studio-mandated edit. Out singer Mary Lambert, for example, responded to Esposito's original tweet thusly:

In a statement provided to AfterEllen, Delta defended its choice to air the edited vs. theatrical version by suggesting that while they may have been okay with the film's displays of same-sex kissing, there was no version of the film made available that kept the kissing while also editing out the so-called "explicit" sex scenes:

“There were two versions of this film that the studio makes available–one that is edited and one that is not edited. The edited version removes two explicit scenes that do not meet our guidelines. The edited version also removes all kissing. The other version is fully non-edited and includes the kissing, but it also includes the explicit scenes.  Unfortunately, Delta doesn’t have the rights to edit the movie, or to make the decision to keep some of that content (e.g. kissing).

"Because of the explicit scenes included in the non-edited version, we chose the edited version. This is consistent with what is available to all airlines.”

For the record, not all airlines chose the edited version of Carol; as tweeted by the film's screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, both American and United decided to play the incredibly tasteful, non-explicit theatrical version of the film, with all displays of beautiful, loving physical intimacy between the two women intact:

Given the gratuitous, violence-steeped trash you can watch freely on most planes (not to mention films that feature far more explicit opposite-sex love scenes), this strikes me as a pretty outrageous stance for Delta to take. One can only hope this controversy forces them to reconsider their "guidelines."

[h/t Vulture]

A former contributor to sites including MTV's The Backlot and Bloody-Disgusting, Chris Eggertsen worked in film development before indulging his love of pop culture writing full time. He specializes in horror, the intersection of social issues and entertainment and Howard Stern. He's on Twitter @HitFixChris.