X-rated, X certificate, X classification or similar terms are labels for movies implying strong adult content, typically pornography or violence. The precise meaning of the "X" and whether it is an official rating or an unofficial labelling varies from country to country.
In the United States, the term X-rated applies to movies featuring explicit sex or, more rarely, to movies featuring extensive graphic violence. The term is now purely a colloquialism; it is not a trademark nor does it have any other legal status. At one time, it was used as a rating by the MPAA. For instance, the film was originally rated X by the MPAA and has since been released on video in an unrated version. Nowadays the rating NC-17 is used instead. All the ratings used today by the MPAA, which administers the MPAA film rating system, are trademarked by them. However, the "X" rating was never trademarked by the MPAA (largely so that a producer of a film which would justifiably be considered X-rated could apply the rating by oneself without having to submit the film to the MPAA), whereas the NC-17 rating has been trademarked by the MPAA.
There has never been an MPAA rating higher than "X". Any movie can call itself "X," "XX," or "XXX," provided that it does not claim that these are MPAA ratings. Today, any film that uses any of these ratings is typically pornographic and the "ratings" are used as a marketing gimmick. Supposedly, the more X's the film contains, the more graphic it is. Since the X ratings are unadministered, producers can assign any number of X's to a title they desire, so the number of X's beyond one has little meaning aside from the fact that the film is pornographic.
The X certificate was replaced by the 18 certificate in 1982. The more restrictive R18 certificate was subsequently created for pornographic films which may only be sold in designated sex shops. In general, 18 films may show simulated sex acts, but R18 films may show real sex acts.
In Australia, X-rated is a legal term. The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OLFC), a government institution, issues ratings for all movies and television shows sold or aired. Movies showing explicit, non-simulated sex are rated "X". "X" rated movies are not permitted to be sold in most States, but possession of such movies is legal and they are sold in the Australian Capital Territory; the constitution forbids restraint in goods and trade between the States, so they are available in all States by mail-order. An attempt to change the classification ratings such that some of the material in the "X" category would be banned and the remainder would be available under the new category "NVE" (an abbreviation for Non-Violent Erotica), failed in the Senate partly due to the belief of some Senators that the new categories were less restrictive than the old.
Movies with a X rating may only be shown in specific theaters (which hardly exist nowadays in France); they bear special taxes and tax rates, including a 33% tax on revenue.
In 2000, some conservative associations sued the government for granting the movie Baise-moi, which contained graphic, realistic scenes of sex and violence, a non-X classification. The Conseil d'État at litigation ruled that the movie should have been rated X. The decision was highly controversial and some suggested changing the law.