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When Rated X Ruled the World (2004)



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Credited cast:
Sharon Holmes ... Herself
... Himself
... Himself
Julia St. Vincent ... Herself
... Herself
... Himself
... Herself
... Himself
... Himself
... Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Arthur Morowitz ... Himself


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Release Date:

7 August 2004 (USA)  »

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Surprisingly Insightful VH1 Documentary
8 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

The first and only time I viewed this VH1 "rock doc" was at 2 A.M. after coming home from a long night of work (I used to work second shift at a supermarket) in the summer of 2004. I had seen a number of the "When _________ Ruled The World" documentaries which were produced and aired by VH1, including those about Playboy, Stand-Up Comedians, and KISS. When I saw this documentary come up on my TV screen, I was interested in watching it, but I also had my reservations.

What I expected was seeing the usual stereotypes of retired porn stars: strained, bleach-blonde hair that looks almost white, nostrils the size of bowling balls from cocaine abuse, and inflated egos from delusions of grandeur. These stereotypes were enforced mostly by movies I had previously seen about the porn industry, such as "Boogie Nights".

What I got instead was a surprising probe into the origins of "porn chic". Many of the people interviewed for the show, particularly the former porn actors, were not at all what I expected porn actors to be. They were well-educated (with one actress, Sharon Mitchell, even having earned a PhD in recent years) and down to earth. It was very interesting to hear them talk about why they entered the porn industry, the origins of porn movies, and some of the techniques involved, which are harder to pull off than they look.

This documentary is unique in that they showed the more positive side of the film revolution that took the nation by storm in the 1970's and hasn't quite piqued creatively ever since. Of course, there are dozens of films, particularly documentaries, that delve into other more negative aspects of the industry, especially the sex abuse, drug use, misogyny, and links to organized crime. "Inside Deep Throat" is one documentary that covers all those bases generally well. It's just refreshing to watch a documentary that is a change from the otherwise really sad subject.

Personally, I am not a fan of porn. I hate watching porn movies, and sometimes found myself averting my eyes from the screen whenever footage of "Deep Throat" was shown, particularly scenes with Linda Lovelace. However, I love movies, and I respect the fact that before videotape and the Internet homogenized and cheapened the industry, there were some people who were actually interested in making quality films. Sometimes they actually succeeded (with "Behind The Green Door" [1972] and "Emmanuelle" [1975]), and it was surprising to hear some notable journalists like the late Tom Snyder give praise to some of these movies. In a lot of ways, the documentary was similar to Ted Demme's "A Decade Under the Influence" (2003), a documentary I also highly recommend.

I'm really shocked that this documentary, along with other VH1's "When ______ Ruled The World" entries, haven't been released on DVD yet as of February 2008. It's far more worthwhile to watch than "Flavor of Love" or "I Love New York", and extremely insightful.

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