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Old 04-14-2010, 06:13 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Default Character dilemma... any thoughts?

I'll try to make this short without needing the detail. It's crucial I figure this out because the theme and tone of the movie can depend on it.

I have a character, mid 40's, ugly, pathetic and everything wrong with a man. He has a sex addiction where his masturbation has become such a problem that he gets caught masturbating on the job. He gets fired for this, but my question is, for a character about redeeming quality and finding things in life he enjoys that aren't strictly sexual, does it make sense to mention he gets fired for masturbation, or another reason and the masturbation tied into the decision of him firing?

Sorry if it's confusing without knowing the whole story, but the main character has a love interest that takes him away from the need to keep his addiction going. I'm just worried that down the line, his history of sex addiction will turn the story into something it's not and his character losing any sort of human quality. It IS in some ways about his sex addiction, but in your opinion, can his sex addiction being cured turn into a feel-good romantic drama? Would all his good decisions to stay away from his addiction overshadow all the good that he wants to do?

Hopefully you understand my question a bit better. I'm just trying to field the question so as not to confuse the theme and humility of the story.
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

I have a character, mid 40's, ugly, pathetic and everything wrong with a man.
woody allen could probably help you out with this. but, he would just say it's his favorite hobby and there's nothing wrong with it. are you willing to go down the road with the truth behind the addiction? it probably has nothing to do with sex. but maybe you already know all you need to know.

does it make sense to mention he gets fired for masturbation
he should get fired for the masturbation but convince his boss to write up a different reason so the stigma doesn't follow him... but the boss will only do it if he signs up for sex disorder treatment.

maybe this is where he finds his love interest. if she had her own sex problems then maybe they could find a happy medium.
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

Sex Addiction is not about physical pleasure.

It's not about being unable to control sexual urges like Pedophilia, and other conditions. SA is trying to fill an emotional need that is absent e.g. real intimacy; feeling wanted; loved; accepted; validated; etc.

Study Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, David Duchovny and other real life cases of Sex Addiction. It's not about "feeling good" physically. It's about the unsatisfying need to feel loved on a deep psychological level.

Like other addictions, the men and women who suffer from Sexual Addiction try and hide it until they hit Rock Bottom, being found out. This is why your scenario of him being caught masturbating at work isn't even remotely logical, or "funny" as a setup for Sexual Addiction.

Most SA arrange discreet liaisons, but eventually people start putting two-and-two together, or the other (wo)man rats the cheating spouse to their family out of jealously when he/she won't leave the family, etc.

Now, considering all of this, this sounds like it will make pretty easy romantic drama/comedy because it's a very easy arc... But this is why I would try and avoid it and think of something else, IMO.

It is too easy and you should be thinking of more creative and challenging ways to create the romantic conflict / drama.

The reason is all your protagonist, the SA, has to do is just learn to have sex for the "right reasons" and this is pretty boring since there is no change in terms of the physical act, just the mental attitude... An internal change we can't really see all things considered. Romcoms and Romdrams are about internal struggles, but they also manifest those struggles into physical actions like all movies do. Having a sex addict as your main character will make this harder because the thing he is afflicted with is rooted in a physical action. Hence, it isn't much of a stretch trying to show that he has changed externally since his external actions are what got him in trouble in the first place.

If you are dead set on using SA as your main character's flaw... Then you are going to have to handle it in a very humorous and heart-felt way where the real issues of why he is a SA are explored, the psychological reasons, instead of him being just portrayed as a typical horn dog, womanizing male.
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

And a lot of times the people with sex addiction were molested or had really horrible experiences with sex as kids. It's actually kind of depressing for those who really have it.

Your dude could just be a slutty guy who claims to have sex addiction hoping it will get him out of trouble.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

dramatic irony. his boss accidentally catches him masturbating on the job; they are both are embarrassed. a couple days later he's fired for something stupid like forgetting to stock the cabinet with post-it notes. it let's the audience participate in what's happening; ie, the characters and the audience know the firing is a sham; but, superficial perceptions have to maintained for the sake of professionalism.

just my thoughts.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

I love the thoughts guys, especially WritersBlock, but do know this is not a comedy, so some of the suggestions are too unrealistic in what I'm trying to portray here.

This is a story in the vein of Leaving Las Vegas meets Adaptation. It's bizarre and out there, but has a heart. So the question is pretty much the same, if a main character's addiction is sex, and we see the change and feel it internally and see it externally half way through the story, can this character go on to find happiness with another human being that isn't rooted in fill the void that makes him so sexual?

My biggest fear is that in the end, the story turns out to confuse people, almost like the question of how an audience can root for a heartless murderer? It's almost impossible without some human quality that's likeable or relatable, like in Tony Soprano's case.

So if he's addicted to sex and comes to a realization about it, can the audience forgive his odd behavior and believe the main character can truly redeem himself through the eyes of someone else?
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

I don't know if I could root for a guy who is obsessed with jerking off. Relate to him, sure, but root for? Nah
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

dog678 - your story reminded me of this:

If "Lou" in the video looks familiar, he should -- he was the voice of Luigi in "Ratatouille" (and the design was based on him). It's a funny film you should check out, might give you some help/ideas.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

So here's this mid 40's, ugly, pathetic and everything wrong with a man type of guy (your description), and you're wondering how to develop some compassion for him and help him find love in his loveless world dispite his masturbation problem. Jerking off is the least of his problems, I'd think. This guy's a loser as is. Give him some redeeming qualities that we can respect when he finally does (if ever) break that habit.
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