The problem with sex addiction and celebrity: Part One

When sex addiction appears in the headlines it is usually attached to some celebrity figure in the form of juicy gossip. We rarely see thorough investigative articles done by professionals who take the condition seriously. The term ‘sex addiction’ is tossed around with little consideration and this is nothing new. When a celebrity has one too many drinks and accidentally takes an unglamorous tumble and flashes their undies, the photographs printed in the newspaper tend to appear with comical ‘Oopsy!’ comments, focusing on their humiliation rather than the potentially concerning issue behind the image. Sometimes it can seem like the media just won’t take addiction seriously. However there are some crucial differences between the media portrayal of drug/alcohol addiction compared with sex addiction.

In reality, many people see alcohol and drugs as a legitimate way of having fun. Certainly people can have a few drinks and enjoy themselves without falling into addiction. And although drugs like cocaine are illegal, there are still many people who take them recreationally and don’t seem to develop an addiction. Although of course there is a fine line and the potential to cross it is overwhelming. What doesn’t help is that the media can often glamorise alcohol and drugs. Many music videos show people getting drunk or high and it looks like a great party. But on the other hand, we are also made painfully aware of the dangers. When a celebrity is quite clearly an alcoholic or drug addict and we can see the consequences written all over their bodies, journalists tend to switch to a more sympathetic tone. Online comments from the public flood in such as ‘look at them,’  ‘isn’t it sad’ and ‘they need help.’  From the images of celebrity deaths at the hands of addiction to the homeless man on the street passed out in their own vomit – we know alcohol and drugs can be dangerous. Not many people watch the movie Trainspotting and think it’s a good idea to go and take heroin. However, sex addiction is not like this. At least not yet…

Sex addiction simply does not receive the same sympathy as alcohol and drug addiction and clearly this is partly caused by the media. Currently the media approach seems to be one of judgment or gossip or both. Recent headlines have seen Keeping Up with the Kardashians Scott Disick cry ‘sex addiction’ after being caught being unfaithful and parading around LA yachts and beaches with beautiful young women. (He has recently renounced this claim). We’ve also seen Ozzy Osbourne open up about his sexual addiction after news of an affair which broke out and nearly ended his marriage with Sharon Osbourne. Admittedly, some journalists do seem to be taking it seriously and approaching the subject with adequate compassion. However, you need only google ‘celebrities with drug or alcohol addiction’ and compare it with ‘celebrities with sex addiction’ to see the shocking differences. Whilst the former provides you with copious heartfelt articles outlining the struggles of various celebrities, the latter generally provides you with a huge database of famous names without any real consideration of whether they are genuine sufferers, and if they are, there’s a distinct lack of compassion and understanding. In my search I have seen headlines such as, ‘You won’t believe these celebs are sex addicts!’… ‘Find out who they are!’… And most shockingly, a men’s magazine revealing the names of numerous female celebrity sex addicts as some kind of turn on. Comments such as “she has a reputation of baring it all at the drop of a hat.” So why is it like this? Why do the media and the public seem to have such a lack of sympathy towards celebrities with sexual addiction?

Firstly, you don’t have to be a detective to know that most things you read in the media should be taken with a pinch of salt. Gossip magazines and certain newspapers have a reputation for printing inaccurate, or at the very least, misleading information. They may be embracing the idea of said celebrity having a problem or disregarding it completely, but either way the reader can greet it with suspicion. So on one hand, the public may simply be having a hard time believing what they read. It all depends on said journalists approach to the story. But on the other hand, if we assume there is truth in the story and said celebrity is a sex addict, it can be difficult to understand how on earth it has happened. To us, celebrities seem to have it all. Money, fame and often love as well. Why would you throw it all away? In the infamous case of Hugh Grant and his acquaintance with a prostitute in the back of the car, many people were left baffled. He was dating Elizabeth Hurley, arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world and living the high life of a successful actor. Why on earth would he do it? Similarly Scott Disick was dating Kourtney Kardashian and leading a life full of glamour. People grow impatient and lose compassion when it seems like someone is being selfish but that patience and understanding is even smaller when it comes to celebrities. The more you have, the more you have to be grateful for – so how can they want more? Our sympathy is certainly limited if not completely non-existent.

In part two we will look at why sex addiction seems so common among celebrities and how we can approach it with better understanding and deeper compassion.