|SUNDAY MAY 19TH, 2013|
April 26, 2011
What is it about the letter “X”?
It is amazing how a letter of the alphabet can scare some people. Literally frighten them to death. They are shocked, bemused, and almost topple over from fear. What is it about the letter “x” that scares people so much? I mean it is just a letter of the alphabet right? like A, B, C etc… I don’t recall in school my teacher skipping over the letter X, she wasn’t scared!
Yet today, in 2011, people are frightened of a letter. The letter X has become in today’s society of censorship and association, a letter to beware of. Why is that? What does “X” mean? I can think of a lot of meanings… The letter X was a Greek addition to the alphabet. In mathematics it stands for “multiply”, and is commonly used in algebra as an independent variable. It is a roman numeral representing “10″. It is used to signify “kiss” when added before a signature, or in expressions such as “xoxo” which means “kisses and hugs”. It is often used to represent unknowns in various circumstances such as “Person X” or “Place X”. The usage of x to represent an independent or unknown variable can be traced back to the Arabic word šay’ xxx = “thing,” used in Arabic algebra texts such as the Al-Jabr, which dates back to AD 820. ”X-rays” are so called because their discoverer did not know what they were.
What else does it mean? In rather recent history, to be exact since 1951 in the UK and 1968 in the USA, it became a common censor rating in the film industry. The British Board of Film Censors gave an X-certificate to films containing content that was not suitable for minors. From 1951 to 1970, it meant “Suitable for those aged 16 and over”, and from 1970 to 1982 it was redefined as meaning “Suitable for those aged 18 and over”. One notable film to get this rating in the UK was the US film Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), later re-rated PG. In the United States, the X-rating originally referred to a non-trademarked rating that indicated a film contained “content that was not suitable for minors“, such as extreme violence or explicit sex, and thus was for adults only. The official MPAA film rating system did not begin until November 1, 1968 in the U.S and many mainstream films were released with an X-rating such as Midnight Cowboy, A Clockwork Orange,Fritz the Cat and Last Tango in Paris.
“Because the X-rating was not trademarked, anybody could apply it to their films, including pornographers, which many began to do in the 1970s. As pornography began to become chic and more legally tolerated, pornographers placed an X-rating on their films to emphasize the adult nature of them. Some even started using multiple X’s (i.e. XX, XXX, etc.) to give the impression that their film contained more graphic sexual content than the simple X-rating. In some cases, the X ratings were applied by reviewers or film scholars, e.g. William Rotsler, who wrote “The XXX-rating means hard-core, the XX-rating is for simulation, and an X-rating is for comparatively cool films.” Nothing beyond the simple X-rating has ever been officially recognized by the MPAA.”
So here we have it … in a nutshell… despite 1000′s of years in which the letter “X” has stood tall and proud as a unique letter to the alphabet, an independent variable and regal algebraic mathematical term, in a mere 60 years the media industries have slandered it into a scarlet letter. It might as well be the scarlet letter of the Salem Witch trials, or the star of the holocaust, the fear it quakes in the civilized mortal.”X” and it’s comparatively recent historical association to pornography, has become a letter of censorship, it has been shamed, slandered, it is a letter pronounced in whispered tones, as if it was evil.
We understand now the meaning behind “X” and also the recent associations to it including variables of it such as XX and XXX. So what does “XXXX” mean? Well, nothing really! If you happen to be Austrialian, then you might think it’s a beer. If you are obsessed with porn, then you might think “extra-extreme” porn. But technically by definition “XXXX” does not actually mean anything! Look it up, you will be surprised at it’s lack of definition.
“XXXX Magazine” was original founded as the “Untitled” Magazine, one that defies definition. A magazine that defies fear, that is confident and proud in a world of association and censorship. It defies a strict definition, as it is about a world of constantly changing variables. It has for me become the ultimate symbol for “creative freedom” as it can truly mean anything. XXXX Magazine is about promoting new ideas and originality. It is a truly progressive publication that refuses to follow the crowd, but rather leads the way in technology, innovation and ideology.
Every 6 months I invite artists from around the world to ponder on a new idea, a new theme, and to translate it in their own way. The result is a multimedia experience of dramatically varied works that inspires and forces the viewer to think outside the box. I ask you to think not what you are TOLD to think, but to try to find the true meaning behind what things signify. Defy the herd mentality of fear and the need for approval and try to find within yourself what you think it means to you. In each issue we present a new idea which is meant to be translated anyway you want it to be. There is NO right answer. Only what you think it means. That is what CREATIVITY is about. Recent issues include the Kaleidoscopic, Surreal and Voyeur Issues. Each issue is dramatically different, with themes that provoke and ask the viewer to question what these ideas mean to them.
Look out for our new issue, The “Voyage” issue, to be released in September 2011. What does Voyage mean to you? In September you will find out what it means to 30 international artists from locations as varied as Instanbul, Mexico, Beunos Aires, Brighton, Cambodia, Wales, London, Los Angeles, Iceland, Croatia, Stockholm, New York, The Isle of Wright, Rome, Paris, Australia … and more….
And lastly, don’t be frightened of a letter of the alphabet, or a word, or a new idea… merely ask yourself, what does it really mean, and what can it mean to you?
Editor in Chief, Creative Director
The “Untitled” Magazine