How much do you really know about X-Rated movies?
Truth be told, it's easy to assume that X-Rated means something freaky....like Kim Kardashian's Sex Tape type of freaky or Jenna Jameson type of freaky because society has become so accustomed to labeling movies with this rating as such, but sexual behavior is NOT what X ratings are cracked up to be......at least, it's not ALL that these ratings are cracked up to be.
Here are some major X-Rated myths that I hope you take into consideration when reading DVD labels in the retail store or reading descriptions of movies that you rent or watch online (or on your mobile device or in your car or wherever you watch movies). You know how they say to not judge a book by it's cover? Well, this A to Z Challenge post will let you know why it's not always wise to judge a movie by it's rating.
Myth #1: X-Ratings are given to Adult films a.k.a. Porno movies that are more graphic or of a sexual nature than NC-17 movies.
Actually, the 'X' rating was part of a Motion Picture Production Code that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) used heavily between the 1930s and 1960s. The United States did not enforce an official rating for porn films nor was the X rating trademarked, so in 1990, the MPAA trademarked the NC-17 rating for films that feature explicit sex, violence or adult behavior that they are generally considered too "strong" to be viewed by children.
Up until this time, the MPAA classified non-pornographic films that feature extreme violence or explicit sex as X-Rated films that were not suitable for minors. Since the 'X' rating was pretty much fair game around that time, adult film producers used the rating to distinguish their movies from the mainstream titles that were geared for general audiences. After a while, adult film producers began to use multiple X letters as a way to depict how graphic or how hard core their film was. For example, X would be maybe soft-core adult while XXX would be your typical hardcore adult film. The 'X' rating only seems to be legally recognized as a specific classification of pornographic films in certain countries such as Australia and France.
Myth #2: Adult/Porn Films are the only movies that are X-Rated
No, no, no. That's not so! Some of the most critically acclaimed films in the history of cinema and beyond have been placed in the X-Rated category by the MPAA. This was during the days when there was no NC-17 rating and I bet some of you reading this may be surprised to find out that one of your favorite films might be among this list.
Among the mainstream Hollywood and independent films that were classified as X-Rated movies were some major Academy Award nominees and winners including "Midnight Cowboy" and Stanley Kubrick's famous flick, "A Clockwork Orange." Now, this was the original rating and "A Clockwork Orange" was later bumped up to Rated-R for it's DVD release. Other Hollywood films such as "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III" also received an X rating for it's gory scenes.
The Melvin Van Peebles classic, "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" was among this X-Rated mainstream crew but was later given an R rating. Side note: Would you believe the director got gonorrhea while shooting one of the sex scenes in this movie?!!! However, the uncut version of this movie appears to be illegal for consumers to own in the United Kingdom.
All in all, the MPAA seems to have replaced their UNofficial X rating with an Official NC-17 rating for films that are beyond their Rated-R qualifications. Since the X rating has developed a sort of stigma or taboo that comes with it, films that receive an NC-17 rating are still perceived by many people in the same manner that porn films are perceived, which has a negative effect on the potential box office sales and critic reviews.
Even today, less theaters are willing to screen a film with an NC-17 rating, which is the battle that "Blue Valentine" (starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) had last year when it was slapped with this rating and fought to get upgraded to an R rating so it could be released in more theaters to boost it's chances of success during the film's opening weekend. With Michelle Williams nominated for Best Actress, a lackluster box office probably would not have been a good look for "Blue Valentine" and Company.
So, the next time you look at a movie or read about one or listen to a podcast or radio show discussing one and it is classified as an X-Rated film, make sure to do some extra homework before jumping to conclusions....for your own sake and for the sake of the producers because the film's rating may be totally unrelated to, and have a completely different meaning than this.....
.....because at the end of the day, don't we just want to be able to watch a really good movie that entertains or enlightens us regardless of it's rating, after all?
Further Reading: II x X = XX
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