1968 November 1

Rated “X”: New Movie Ratings System Goes Into Effect


The Motion Picture Producers Association (MPPA), struggling to adapt to both anti-censorship court decisions and more tolerant public attitudes regarding sexuality in the movies — but not willing to abandon all restraints — put into effect a new movie ratings system on this day. The original classification categories were G, PG, R and X. In 1984, the PG category was added.

The MPPA, however, did not trademark the category XXX, which the pornography industry quickly embraced for its sexually explicit films. Theater owners soon refused to book practically any X-rated films, and so the MPPA replaced it with the NC-17 category in 1990.

The motion picture industry had struggled for decades, beginning in the 1920s, with various forms of self-regulation and self-censorship. See for example, the voluntary “Don’ts and Be Carefuls” list on October 15, 1927 and the notorious and longest-lasting censorship system in the Production Code, which was adopted on June 13, 1934.

Read about the MPPA ratings system: http://www.filmbug.com/dictionary/mpaa-ratings.php

Learn more: Jon Lewis, Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry (2000)

Learn more about the sexual revolution in the movies: Robert Hofler, Sexplosion: From Andy Warhold to A Clockwork Orange — How a Generation of Pop Rebels  Brake All the Taboos (2014)

Learn more about the myths and facts about pornography: Marcia Pally, Sense and Censorship: The Vanity of the Bonfires (1991), http://mediacoalition.org/files/Sense-and-Censorship.pdf

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