Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Movie Shame and Sex Addiction

Have you noticed like I have that the cop out for male Hollywood celebrities caught in extra-marital affairs e.g. Tiger Woods, Jesse James (Sandra Bullocks ex-hubby), David Duchovny, Michael Douglas, Katy Perry’s Russell Brand, Halle Berry’s Eric Benet is ‘I am a sex addict’ followed by a stint in a sex rehab clinic? Like really?!

I rationalized that Sex Addiction COULD exist but I just couldn’t understand its MO. Is it someone who liked sex too much/chased after women too much or what? 
Well, the movie Shame answered the question.

Shame is rated 18 so be aware that you are going to be seeing naked human bodies. Naked bodies having sex, Full male frontal (Yay***!!! Fassbender’s ding dong was on FULL view within the first 2 minutes of the movie as he walked around his apartment scratching his balls. Ewww).

(***Female frontal nudity is treated as par for course in the Movie Industry while men’s naked bodies are treated as 'limited edition exhibitions'. I am yet to understand why. 
Maybe when female viewers see it, they combust or become mad?! 

I digress :D

Plot – Brandon (Fassbender) is a man in his 30s, he has a good job with a techie firm, lives in a cool Manhattan apartment and sometimes goes out for drinks with his sleazy boss. He should have been living la vida loca in NY but for his shameful secret. He abuses himself with sex. His life revolves around porn, masturbation and the women he sleeps with. He is always on the lookout for women who think of sex like he does – hedonistic with orgasm as goal…prostitutes are usually his best bet.
What he can’t handle are relationships. The give and take of relationships, its intimacy, the expectations, the commitment.

His sterile lifestyle is disrupted when his only sibling and sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes into town desperately in need of brotherly love and a place to stay. Fassbender has none to give barely tolerating her presence cause it cramped his style.
Their conversations hinted at some dark childhood secret but this wasn’t elaborated.
There was a poignant scene when Brandon in anger told her to leave his house. That she was a parasite etc etc. Her answer ‘I’m not going anywhere. You are my brother. You are supposed to look after me’ was poignant.
I think I’m going to try that on my elder siblings J.

When he leaves her one weekend to indulge in a rebellious rash of sexual orgies with random men and women he meets, there are disastrous repercussions but he also learns that maybe he could care for another. 

Addiction is compulsive seeking and abuse of drug/alcohol/sex/food/cigarette despite the known harmful effects upon the person’s functioning in the context of family, health, school, work, and recreational activities. Think Whitney Houston. Think Denzel as the Pilot in Flight.

Shame certainly captured that. In sexual addiction, orgasm is the ultimate goal (like getting a high from cocaine). And just like with drug taking, where the addict may need to take incremental amounts of the drug to get his particular high, in sex addiction, our guy needed to have more risque sex to get pleasure. 
But in a particular shot which focused on his face at this ‘supposed-to-be-orgasmic-moment’, what we also see is a portrait of regret, and shame.

In one scene when he went out on a dinner date with a co-worker who was interested in him, he was like a caged animal. The exchange of pleasantry and getting-to-know-all-about-you-conversation was so difficult for him.
She asked him the length of his longest relationship and He said ‘4 months’. She said ‘You didn’t even try’ and he replied ‘Actually, I tried so hard’.
And when they went back to his place at the end of a 3rd date (wink), her attempts to ‘make love’ - you know, all the looking into his eyes, tenderly touching the face - just killed our guy’s mojo. He couldn’t get it up. He wasn’t used to all that extra emotion nor was he used to treating sexual partners as people.

Just to prove that, after the disappointed date leaves, he calls his stand-by call girl and indulges in a prolonged sexual marathon.

I have watched ‘Choke’ an older movie/comedy which touched on the life of a sex addict too but compared to Shame, it humorised sex addiction. 
Steve McQueen excellent direction and Fassbender’s acting made sex addiction real in the painful, pitiful way any addiction is.
The movie didn’t make the 2012 Oscar list despite critical acclaim. Its R-rating probably made that impossible.

Do I recommend the movie? To be honest I don’t know. It is certainly not a 'date movie'. 
It was graphic yet not titillating. It wasn't a thriller yet I was riveted. I had chosen to watch it cause I was curious to know about sex addiction. 
Did it answer/satisfy my curiosity? Unequivocally Yes.

p.s.  Fassbender it seems, is the male Sharon Stone for the millennium. He was happily displaying his butt (no frontal though) in yet another movie ‘A Dangerous Method’.


  1. While I firmly believe sex addiction is real, I believe folks in society have 'abused' the addiction as a way to get out the societal scolding that is the repercussion for bad behavior. So instead of taking your scorn on the chin, they would rather everyone feels sorry for them so it doesn't affect their perception in the public's estimation. Better to be sick than to be plain bad and a love rat. I do not believe any of these actors or celebrities that tout sex addiction are actually sex addicts. I think they are over-pampered, entitled jerks that give sex addiction a bad name. Lol. I never see the accompanying effect of sex addicition as eloquently described by you and depicted by the film in their mien. No extreme shame, no genuine desire to stop, no helplessness etc. It is when it affects the bottom line that they run to Betty Ford or some mountain retreat and come out in 30 days. Real addicts will tell you that treatment takes longer and you attend support groups and have sponsors to prevent a relapse. So screw those phony fakers. I will look for the movie tho...oh and sorry for the epistle, just can't stand liars. lol.

  2. Hmm... I don't think I'll be watching this. My mind is too active to handle it. This article has helped me understand sex addiction a bit. It's difficult to think people can be addicted to sex. I mean people can like/enjoy it but being addicted... It became clearer when you compared orgasms to being high.

    It is well.



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