Origins of XXX Symbol


I’m researching the history of Amsterdam and the Red Light District for a book I’m writing, and stumbled across this:

http://hipplanet.com/amsterdam/redlight.htm
Could this be where the symbol originated? The red light district of Amsterdam would be a pretty good place to get a logo for “all that is pornographic”. Do the Dutch words for Charity, Resolution and Heroism start with X?

jarbaby

The history of the letter X for pornography goes back to about 1969 (I think) when the MPAA movie rating system was first introduced. The original system had an R for Restricted, M for Mature and G for General. If a movie did not fit into these categories, is was unrated and an X was drawn in the place where the rating was to be written. This wasn’t, strictly speaking, a rating, although people treated it like one.

The pornography industry latched onto the X a year or two later, putting it on movies that had not been submitted to the MPAA for rating. (Since it wasn’t one of their trademarked symbols, the MPAA couldn’t stop this.) It wasn’t very long before the film marketers started adding more Xs to suggest that this movie was even more explicit than the usual X movie. All numbers from 1 to 5 Xs were tacked onto movies, although after a while they standardized at XXX.

Well, this is probably far more than you wanted to know about it. But I think it’s safe to say that the Amsterdam symbol of three Xs has nothing to do with the origin of the X for pornography.

Movie ratings were in use in the UK long before they were in the US, and, if I recall rightly, they used “X” for adults-only.

But that’s exactly why they left it untrademarked - so that producers (not just of porn) who didn’t want to submit their films for rating could apply the X (it would have the same effect as a MPAA applied X - no one under 17 gets in, period.)

Information straight from the horses mouth. (It’s page 2…bleedin’ frames…)

That’s not to say that porn producers never misused it with the XX, XXX, etc, just that the MPAA had no intention of stopping them from using X, even if they could.

[popeye] FAS-cinatin’ [/popeye]

so what are we saying, this quote about Amsterdam is completely fabricated? Is Charity, Resolution and Heroism a motto of Amsterdam at all?

God BLESS it I wish that had been true…it would have been a perfect bit of symbolism.

F.

jarbaby

Here’s a direct link to the MPAA page:

According to the document (written by the Cheek Guy, Jack Valenti himself) the rating “X” was explicitly in the first official 1968 system, even though it wasn’t in the original proposal and was never trademarked.

X was later changed to the substantially longer phrase that is now in use today (and is trademarked so I won’t type it out here).

Did any movies ever claim to have an “XX” rating? I thought they jumped to “XXX” directly. :slight_smile:

I remember as a kid we tried to figure out what the difference between X, XX, and XXX was. It was similar to the bases, but more hardcore.

from here

So they are crosses , not X’s.

Oh, I just discovered that

this was at the end of a paragraph in my link. Sorry to not have done it in one post.

The orgin of XXX in booze may be a long time ago you indicated poison with an “X.” To throw off revenuers and tempereate wives :slight_smile:
you labled it “XXX.” That way you knew it was alcohol but everyone else thought it was poison and left it alone.

One theory anyway.

According to Wordwithyou.com [ http://www.wordwithyou.com/columns/1_14_99.gif ] XXX symbolizes a lattice; a “barrier between the material and the prospective viewer.”

They also bring Medieval monks into it, so who knows. :slight_smile: