Sex Addiction – the newest ‘go to’ theme for TV and film

It was just over 4 years ago that the Tiger Woods scandal introduced the word “sex addiction” to mainstream America.

Sex addiction is as old as the hills, but on that November day in 2009 (thanks to Tiger) sex addiction became a household word.  A few more celebrities entered rehab, Kanye West admitted to Details magazine that he is a sex addict, Dr Phil started to cover the subject and lo and behold sexaholism slowly began to be recognized as a societal problem (even if it’s still not generally accepted as an actual sickness).

A few movies started to look at the subject of sex addiction over the past years – and now it seems that all the big Hollywood studios are instructing their writers to add a sex addict story line to their scripts.  What alcoholism was to the 80’s (Barfly, When a Man Loves A Woman) and drug addiction was to the 90’s (Requiem for a Dream, Drugstore  Cowboy, Gridlock’d, Trainspotting), I predict sexaholism will be to 2014.

Addiction has always been a theme in music, film and tv.  Some of the best were clearly ahead of their time.  The 1962 film “Days of Wine and Roses” is a very realistic look at alcoholism during a time when social drinking was the norm.  Mickey Rourke’s character in 9 1/2 weeks was certainly a sex addict long before it was being discussed openly.  In the last couple of years we saw two excellent movies come out which centered entirely around sex addiction – “Shame” and “Thanks For Sharing”.   With top directors and big name actors starring in these films, the addiction is getting a lot of attention.

(SPOILER ALERT!)  Last nights “Shameless” episode is the latest show to use sex addiction as a theme.  Long story short, Fiona has sex with her boyfriends alcoholic brother.  She speaks with the alcoholic later that day and she says “we are going to forget this…it never happened” to which the alcoholic replies that it DID happen, and it WILL happen again.  Then he calls her “addict”.    Is this a case of the brother wanting to define others as addicts so he doesn’t feel so alone?  Or is Fiona indeed an addict herself – a result of being raised by an alcoholic father?  I’m guessing Al-Anon is in her future…as is a full blown affair with the alcoholic brother.  I mean, what addict could resist?

Wherever the story line goes for Fiona, this progress is really good and really important.  Film, TV, Music & Art are such important catalysts to bring information and understanding to people.  Mental illness, eating disorders, addictions, gay marriage…you name it…if it happens in the world, it eventually makes its way to the big screen and into the consciousness of millions of viewers.   Sometimes the real world and art collide as in the case of David Duchovny whose character Hank Moody in “Californication” is a sex addict, as David is in real life.

Some films will get it wrong and it is likely to be used for comedy as much as anything.  But the more the public sees of the damage and truth of this addiction the sooner we can all crawl out from under it’s shadows.


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