RE: X, XX, XXX -- is there a difference?

Brian McCaskill (brian@facets.org)
Fri, 25 May 2001 11:30:12 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Mike,

I actually read the same NY Times article (and I have a friend who is
familiar with this kind of stuff) so perhaps I can elaborate on the series
of graduated X ratings that the "Adult Film Industry" regularly employs.

Basically the XX rating was born out of the perceived need of certain
distributors in the porno industry to differentiate themselves from the
original X rating that the MPAA later employed for feature films like
"Midnight Cowboy" and "Fritz the Cat" (which received X ratings upon
release, but have now been re-classified as R ratings). That way your
average "porno connoisseur" would know that if he (or she) purchased a
ticket to an XX rated film that the emphasis would be less on filmmaking and
more on what Jerzy Grotowski might have referred to in his work as "the
actors' language of non-verbal communication".

The XXX rating came about as a response to the successful marketing of the
XX rating; if people sought out the XX rating because of a belief that it
would be more explicit than the X rating, then they would be even more
inclined to attend (or in the case of modern times, rent) a XXX rated movie.

"Customers" caught on after a while to the Barnumesque marketing strategies
of the porno industry and instead of leaning towards the titles with the
highest number of Xs, they gravitated more towards specific fetishes or
genres (and with a 4.2 billion dollar a year industry, there is certainly
enough variety there to satisfy every taste that there might be).

The X, XX and XXX ratings are still used to describe degrees of sexuality
(if such a thing is even possible) and (big surprise here) are generally
marketed towards men's definitions of what an X (marketed towards couples
and bachelor party screenings), XX (marketed towards people more inclined
towards, say, "private screenings"), and XXX rating (marketed towards the
specific and/or peculiar tastes that one generally admits to only after a
very large number of cocktails) generally represent.

Please keep in mind that these are all general interpretations and do not
apply all of the time, but rather most of the time. It really all comes down
to people's tastes and how they are usually defined or categorized.
Sometimes people might be more in the mood for "Last Tango in Paris",
sometimes they might be more in the mood for "Deep Throat". I think Roman
Polanski put it best when he said that the difference between erotica and
pornography is that "In erotica you use a feather...in pornography you use
the whole chicken".

Well I hope that this information (that I learned from a friend of mine
who's into this kind of stuff) has helped.

By the way, Facets does carry "Midnight Cowboy", "Last Tango in Paris" and a
slew of other titles that you might be uncomfortable watching with your
mother. We also carry a number of titles on Jerzy Grotowski that you will be
comfortable watching with your mother. For further information or suggested
"research" titles please feel free to contact me at your convenience
(please, business only).

Sincerely,

Brian McCaskill, Director
Educational Services
Facets Multimedia
1517 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: brian@facets.org
phone: 800-331-6197
fax: 773-929-5437

-----Original Message-----
From: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
[mailto:videolib@library.berkeley.edu]On Behalf Of Mike Boedicker
Sent: Friday, May 25, 2001 11:30 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: X, XX, XXX -- is there a difference?

The cover story of last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, about the
pornographic video industry, indicated there are real differences between X,
XX, and XXX-rated films -- although sadly it didn't elaborate. I've always
read that the double and triple X ratings are purely a marketing gimmick
with no significance (they're certainly not part of the MPAA system).
Anyone know the answer to this admittedly trivial question?

Mike Boedicker
Audiovisual Director & Webmaster
Danville Public Library
319 N. Vermilion
Danville, IL 61832
(217) 477-5223 ext. 123
Fax: (217) 477-5230
http://www.danville.lib.il.us

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