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New video labels warn of terrorism

By MELIA BOWIE
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 17, 2001

Jessica Lambert perused the rows of videos at Blockbuster Video in St. Petersburg for a movie to help her unwind.

She had settled on Swordfish when she noticed the bright yellow sticker at the bottom of the box. A warning label read: "In light of the acts of terrorism on Sept. 11, 2001, please be advised this product contains scenes that may be considered disturbing to some viewers."

Lambert put Swordfish down. "My boyfriend and I put it back because we thought it was too much," she said.

Blockbuster officials began issuing the stickers Oct. 30 on all newly released videos containing terrorism themes and say they'll continue until year's end. Then they'll reassess the policy.

"We're trying to give our customers some more information ... to decide whether they want to view it or not," said Blockbuster spokesman Blake Lugash. "People have different levels of sensitivity, and we want to make sure we're sensitive to that fact."

Debora Knudsen of St. Petersburg said the move is a "good extra step."

"If I had lost someone in the terrorist attacks, I wouldn't want to watch a movie (with) people getting blown up," she said.

A number of independent video stores in the bay area said they have not seen a need to enact similar policies.

"I hadn't heard anything about it," said Susan Strickland, manager of Video Gallery Super Store in Seffner. "I don't think it's necessary."

Lugash said Blockbuster has labeled several movies and games. Along with John Travolta's Swordfish, the labels are on The Point Men and Ticker.

Customer Judy Simon isn't sure the warnings are needed. "There's a synopsis on the back of the box," she said. "People can read about the movie before they rent it."

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