New System for Handling Films Marked as Adult
Recently, a lot of sexploitation and other classic exploitation and cult films have been removed from Letterboxd because someone on TMDB has been marking them as Adult. I think that the process of importing titles needs to be rethought, because it is drastically affecting my abilities to keep track of my lists and reviews, and it really hurts to see titles disappear after I have put effort into writing reviews and managing lists.
Something really needs to be done about this, because this has continued to be an issue since I first started using the site, and so far there has been no solution to these issues.
Let’s do this: can someone in this thread compile a list of “important/historically significant” adult films that should be on LB. Then we can see about adding an exceptions list to our importer that uses this list.
Mason Horsley commented
I know this sounds bad, but I mean, it would help. I know I'd like a place for serious feature-length porn movie reviews!
Thundercrack! was flagged as an adult movie on TMDB in November 2019. TMDB won’t “change it back” because it IS actually an adult movie, even if it is a weird, funny, cult one. An inconvenient truth.
So it looks like Thundercrack!, a cult film that many people like and have rated on the site, has now been removed because TMDb won't change it back from Adult. This is getting ridiculous.
I'm gonna reedit and repost my summary from 2018 as literally nothing has changed since then. Most of the new comments since 2018 all promote the "simplest" or "easiest" solution and, as a developer (entirely unaffiliated with Letterboxd), these solutions and suggestions are anything but.
Let's assume the following, as good faith:
1. Some Letterboxd users want to track adult films.
2. Adult films are divisive and many feel disgusted by them.
3. From a historical perspective, any film of any genre can be important.
4. Creating a singular list of "important films" of any genre is impossible.
5. The Letterboxd team is small and busy and has other priorities.
Then, to clarify my role in this:
* I'm a user of Letterboxd. I, too, want to track adult films.
* I'm a developer who has written software and books about software for 25+ yrs.
* I literally own every Vinegar Syndrome release.
* I am not a lawyer.
And, finally, to reiterate "how it works right now":
* Letterboxd DOES NOT decide what films are adult or not.
* Instead, Letterboxd (LB) uses the crowd-sourced data from TheMovieDB (TMDB).
* Anyone can set, and unset, an "is adult" flag on a film in TMDB.
* If an adult film is listed in LB, it's because the data is inaccurate in TMDB.
* If the TMDB data is corrected, the entry is removed from the public LB.
* If you logged or reviewed the film in LB, your data remains in your export.
* The last official response on this issue was back in 2018.
There have been two primary suggestions on how to "fix this":
Remove the "adult film" filter entirely. From (my) developer's perspective, this seems the easiest programmatic solution because it's "just" a matter of removing the "is this film flagged as adult in TMDB?" check within the importer and updaters. It sounds soOoOO easy that, why, jeez, it must be SUPAH simple to accomplish for such a "small and busy" team like Letterboxd. However, it opens Letterboxd up to a huge can of worms when it comes to search engines and content filters (marking Letterboxd as an adult site because it has adult film covers or pornographic text across hundreds of pages), when it comes to parents and children (nudity in the movie posters, salacious text in the descriptions), and when it comes to the fervency of the "adult films are the devil's work" crowd (consider the obsessive details of IMDB's "parents guide" for a film, which is "acceptable" in its salacious details because we're "saving the children" dontchaknow). Add in differing definitions of adult content and child protection laws depending on where you live, and this "simple solution" would likely cost Letterboxd MORE time, MORE hassle, and MORE money (legal fees, a wider audience of angry users no longer subbing, etc.). It's just not tenable.
The other solution seems the safest from a user experience perspective: adding an "I want to see adult content" flag to a user's profile. However, from (again, my) developer's perspective, this is also the most costly to implement. Nearly every single "view" (not "page") on the site would need to be modified to support this flag. It's not just a matter of "me" wanting to add adult content to my lists, but also of "you" viewing my profile and feeds. It'd require a rewrite of the caching engines of the site to support adult vs. non-adult preferences. It affects everything at the stupidest level of detail: should the "You've watched 17 of 34" films statistic on a list count adult content? Should it show "17 of 34" for one user and "17 of 26" to another? Or some horrible amalgamation of "17 of 26 (8 adult films hidden)"? What about all the other stats that are calculated and then cached to prevent recalculation on every page load? For a "simple" site with little traffic, sure, doing all this would be relatively easy. But when you've got hundreds of thousands of users and millions of page requests, you've got a very different set of problems to solve. For a "small and busy" team like Letterboxd, this suggestion would likely take months of careful and concerted work for, likely, the smallest percentage of their user base. And any rendering bug would open Letterboxd to the same can of worms as the first solution above.
Robert Beveridge commented
Please address this. The suggestion, made multiple times, of hiding/showing by user account is likely the best way to go here.
Jack Holman commented
I'd argue all adult films are "actual films". It's incredibly ignorant to discount an entire genre of filmmaking like that. And yes some might be more objectively artistically minded than others, but same goes for any genre. There exist a great many adult films that I'd argue constitute genuine works of art.
Jack Holman commented
I suggest that pages marked as "adult" be filtered from searches and blocked *by default*, but once a user makes an account they can go into the settings and turn the filter off if they so choose. Some of my genuine favourite films can't be listed on Letterboxd just because they happen to have sex in them.
Ruggero "GasmaskAvenger" Jacopetti commented
So why is The Sinful Dwarf banned from Letterboxd?
Its more sexploitation than outright pornography, IMO.
It would be great if there was an accept or deny adult content option in the user settings.
Peter Spencer commented
Yes, they are not "actual films" but they're films nonetheless, and some people watch them.
So I think letterbox should include such films from Digital Playground to Dorcel.
I especially would LOVE to review Vixen's After Dark, starring Tori Black.
So let's add adult movies on letterbox.
Those in favour, send a vote!
It's now been almost 5 years since this topic was started, what's happening? There's not much to be added than what has already been more eloquently stated but this should be resolved sooner rather than later - it's incredibly frustrating not to be able to log some movies, not to mention the fact that certiain directors filmographies (Jess Franco, Joe D'Amato, Andrea Bianchi, Roger Watkins, Radley Metzger to name a few) are incomplete.
The hypocrisy in allowing certain sexually explicit films (Gaspar Noe's "Love", Lars Von Triers "The Idiots", Nagisa Oshima's "In the realm of the senses" etc. etc.), but still banning others which I assume are deemed "less worthy" because there is not a recognized name attached to them is quite sad.
Peter Spencer commented
There are millions of movies on letterbox, yet very few films distributed by adult studios like Digital Playground and Brazzers and such. We should include them also...
As part of films to review, out on film lists or add or watch list.
Like most things in life, it all comes down to dicks.
Chris Freiberg commented
The thing that annoys me about this issue is that there's lots of porn on Letterboxd already (nudie cuties were just as hardcore as porn could legally get in America in the early Sixties, same thing with pinku films in Japan or "erotic thrillers" on the shelves of Blockbuster Video). The hypocrisy of adding only "historically significant" hardcore films bugs me considering how artistically insignificant a lot of those softcore films are, not to mention how morally repugnant some of the stuff is, like all the pinku rape flicks that have entries on LB. I don't want to see any of that objectionable material gone from the site, so what's wrong with adding a little more? I wish you could just let everything not marked "video" in and be done with it.
Just add an option for individual users to choose whether or not they can see adult content. The solution is simple!
Checking in on this again. With Vinegar Syndrome becoming more and more popular, it's a shame that a good portion of their catalog isn't even on the site because of this arbitrary rule.
I also think this treatment of supposedly adult films is quite problematic. What qualifies one film as 'adult', but not another?
So far I have stumbled only over one film that I cannot add to a list (*), and yet this matters greatly, out of principle. There are several entries missing in e.g. Jess Franco's or Radley Metzger's filmographies.
Are they supposed to be less important, or even lesser, than others? Who should judge this?
(*) Radley Metzger's 'The Image' is missing from Letterboxd: https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/67018-the-image
LB deleted my diary entry of an adult title. Why not just allow adult titles? An "allow adult content" option would be great. But stop removing adult titles from the database.
Add me to the list, please.
Make it simple. Add "Would you like to see adult content" check box to the profile settings. Check it, you see adult titles, don't check it, you don't!
If the poster images are the issue, then don't display them. It's an easy compromise since it would eliminate the chance of people accidentally seeing graphic content, but those who watch adult can still track their films with the rest of their viewing the way the site is supposed to.
Allowing some titles based on being shot on film as opposed to video is splitting hairs at best, snooty at worst. Adult should be allowed, period, regardless if it was shot on film for theatrical release or is a compilation of scenes that debuted on the net. If it's a commercially released title with an IMDB page, we should be able to review and track it here.
Jesse Wroe commented
Every single adult movie made for theatrical distribution meets the standard of "film."
Quality and artistic merit obviously don't matter as qualifications for being deemed "film" (or, if we must, we can just call it a "movie"). If we can have thousands of exploitation and B films in the database, there's no good reason not to include narrative hardcore porn.
These films are the subjects of scholarship and film criticism. The entertainment landscape was changed by them, ushering a cultural moment known as "porno chic." Audiences were interested in real sex as a subject.
This shouldn't be ghettoized just so some people don't have to feel uncomfortable.