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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.

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  • hill89 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    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.

  • Michael commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    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

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    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.

  • Ruz_El commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    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  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    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.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I really think there should be a criteria for this. Perhaps if they were shot on film? Narrative based? There's a HUGE part of film history that's being ignored by Letterboxd. IMDB lists adult films. So does Mubi.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @matthew buchanan thank you for including in this post the comment about the export file. I had done a lot of reviews on wrestling when it was allowed on this site and thought they were all gone. Finding the export I can now get all of that information back!

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    yeah noticed a bunch of franco films and films released on vinegar syndrome missing on letterboxd. please add them

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Any news regarding this matter? I'm baffled that the Letterboxd personnel hasn't come to a firm decision yet. Isn't it time to stop beating around the bush, eh? Many adult films, as mentioned and described in detail below, are of as equal historical importance as any other. There's also quite a few Franco films that have been removed from Letterboxd. Come on, the man got an honorary Goya award...his work shouldn't be shunned!

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I 100% agree with NarpJay! Letterboxd really needs to allow adult titles into their database and just make their access optional for those who want them or not. The restoration work that Vinegar Syndrome in particular has done for adult entertainment titles is exceptional and it remains a major shame to not have any of those titles on the database for fans to log in their profiles.

  • NarpJay commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I also think this really needs to be addressed. A list of historically significant adult films isn't going to work well, because no one is going to agree what constitutes "historically significant."

    In my opinion, it goes without saying that films from the theatrical era of hardcore should be included on Letterboxd. These were actual films, not just collections of hardcore scenes. They had plots, actual acting, location shooting, etc. Some were good and some were bad, but these were actual attempts to make a film.

    The best solution as I see it is to do what IMDB does, and have a feature that allows the user to suppress adult titles or make them visible. IMDB has the default setting at suppress, and each individual user has to change their settings to see adult titles.

    I know that pornography is an icky subject for a lot of people. But the fact is that it exists, and that pornographic film has existed for as long as film has existed. Letterboxd should reflect this.

  • J commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I just watched and logged Roger Watkin’s Corruption last night. Definitely a hardcore film. But an important one. There are many other important adult films that I can’t log. This makes no sense. This doesn’t seem like a difficult issue to solve. Just fix it so others, like me, can log and review other important adult films.

  • Morbus Iff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It might be time to summarize things for new folks coming in:

    * Read the original idea above. It remains an accurate feature request.

    Let's also 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.

    And, finally, to clarify my role:

    * 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+ years.
    * I've stopped paying for Letterboxd Patron status because of this issue.
    * I am frustrated with Letterboxd's inaction, but I understand it.
    * I am not a lawyer.

    There have been two primary suggestions:

    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.

  • AdminMatthew Buchanan (CEO / Founder, Letterboxd) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Morbus Appreciate you coming to my defense. Please note that no reviews are "permanently lost" if a film is removed from the site — they’re always available in your personal Export file (in Settings). As you point out, as a moderator of TMDb I’m also charged with correctly flagging content according to their classification rules, and sometimes this means films get removed on our side.

    May I reiterate that we are a very small team maintaining and moderating a huge platform/community of film lovers. While we’d love to have prioritized this topic, others have proven more important. We’re still thinking about how best to action it, particularly given the subjective nature of introducing this type of exception to our import criteria ("if you let x, why not y?" etc).

  • Morbus Iff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Evan: Was it actually an adult film? Taking your comment at face value, it's hard to tell if you're inferring deliberate "wrongdoing" on Matt's part or not. (i.e., if it IS an adult film, then setting its flag on TMDB is technically correct, and the side-effect of having it removed from Letterboxd is less nefarious). Still, I agree: especially in regards to minority groups, it could easily be considered a matter of systemic racism (or sexism)

    (To clarify: Matt himself is not sexist or racist, but if Letterboxd can be manipulated so easily that all black films on TMDB could be flagged "adult", and all that viewing and reviewing data would immediately be deleted from Letterboxd, with no recovery at all, then Letterboxd is hopelessly and systematically racist and sexist.)

  • Evan Purchell commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Matthew Buchanan: You personally edited one of my tMDB submissions a few months back so that it would be removed from this site. As someone who studies queer film history (which the films I submit are very much a part of), not being able to log and review movies *that are historically and culturally significant to a minority group* is frustrating and makes me want to move away from using Letterboxd.

    This thread has been running for three years now. Will you ever make some sort of decision regarding allowing these films to be on this site -- toggle or not?

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