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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 nowadays 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 Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 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 by the MPAA, which administers the MPAA film rating system, are trademarked by them. Any movie can call itself "X". There has never been an "XXX" MPAA rating.

In the United States, Midnight Cowboy is the only X-rated film ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture; it has also been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

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 retraint in goods and trade between the States, and 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 a mistaken belief by some Senators that the new categories were less restrictive than the old.

 



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