My father was a film editor during one phase of his life...that gives me the standing to be pedantic here :)
The industry abandoned "X" not because there was no use for it, but because, unlike the other ratings, they had not trademarked it. So anybody could claim to have an "X-rated" movie in a way that they couldn't do with "PG" or the others. The MPAA wanted something it had a bit more control over, so they dropped "X" in favor of "NC-17", which is properly trademarked and cannot be applied to a random porn flick.
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