Sex Addiction in the News: Hollywood still doesn’t get it

A recent NY Times article reports a strange and unfortunate promotional strategy for the upcoming movie Choke: beads commonly used as sex toys attached to a bookmark. The movie Choke is about a sex addict. We’ll see if the portrayal is accurate or if it just relies on easy stereotypes. If so, it wouldn’t be the first (Blades of Glory comes readily to mind).

As the Times article puts it: “Move over, tubby; take a break, old maid, there’s a new straw man available for theatrical ridicule: the sex addict. Even as Hollywood has learned, slowly, not to mock the handicapped or brand all Middle Easterners as terrorists, and has turned a more sensitive eye toward alcoholics and drug addicts, it has shown little tact in portraying people diagnosed with sex addiction.”

Later in the article we read:

One participant, who asked for anonymity in accordance with [12 step sex addiction recovery] program’s traditions, said he was offended by the sex toy promotion at Choke.

“It’s like if they made a movie about alcoholism and they were handing out shot glasses or a movie about diabetes and they were handing out sugar cookies,” said the man, who is in his 40s and works in publishing.

What made him seek help was a pattern of “rapidly diving into one romantic entanglement after another, sometimes more than one at a time, without getting to know a person,” he said.

Michelle Hooper, the senior vice president for publicity and promotions of Fox Searchlight, the distributor of Choke, defended the sex toy handout as “provocative and funny, like the film.” The movie does occasionally nod to the seriousness of sex addiction, especially in a scene at a 12-step meeting where a man, who has been jailed and had his teeth knocked out for stalking, testifies that the program helped him stop and save his life.

The fact that pop culture is making jokes about sex addicts is a sign that awareness of the condition is percolating in mass consciousness, Dr. Pat Carnes said. Some films are taking it seriously, such as Love Sick: Secrets of a Sex Addict, which was shown in April on the Lifetime network.

Not that everyone is ready for a sober look at sex addiction.

“A commenter on the Web site imdb.com who was dissatisfied with Love Sick griped “I expected there to be more sex scenes in a movie about sex.”

The bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, is this: at least the subject is getting talked about. Sex addiction is easy to poke fun of, but the more it’s talked about, the more likely it is that people who are having problems will consider getting help. The Times article mentions David Duchovny, comedian Russell Brand, and author Susan Cheever as examples of people who’ve gone public with their struggles in this area.

One thought on “Sex Addiction in the News: Hollywood still doesn’t get it”

  1. I have to agree: the more people are talking, the better at this point. At least when people hit bottom, they will have heard of sex addiction and will know 12 Step programs and rehab exist.

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