Documentary Review: ‘Sticky: A (Self) Love Story’

I remember an assignment in my high school psychology class where we had to pick an article from the library database and discuss it in class. I don’t remember the article I chose, but another student had picked an article about early age sexual tendencies, including masturbation. The class was giddy and/or intrigued, but the teacher quickly shut down his discussion. This type of reaction and many other topics ranging from light-hearted (like euphemisms for masturbation and adult toys) to the more serious (like religious views and suicide) are explored in the fascinating new documentary, Sticky: A (Self) Love Story.

There is a bit of a stigma in America when it comes to talking about masturbation (or sex in general). I admit that I typically do not discuss topics of a sexual nature; but I don’t talk much in general, so I rarely get comfortable enough to broach the topic. It is this kind of stigma that Writer/Director Nicholas Tana is trying to quash with this documentary as he interviews authors, celebrities like Janeane Garofalo, psychologists, law makers, religious figures, educators, publishers like Larry Flint, and Former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders about their views on masturbation.

Accompanying the interviews are short clips of various Hollywood productions from classic movies like Full Metal Jacket and Fast Times at Ridgemont High to more recent television programs like Sex and the City, Scrubs, and Family Guy. Also, news segments and articles are included and debated. The film offers a well-rounded look at why masturbation is so taboo and why it should be more openly accepted. It may also have the unintended side effect of making people want to stay away from Alabama (this line is meant as a joke, but could be serious- they are the only state to ban the sale of adult toys yet have limited restrictions on guns; that just seems wrong).

Nicholas speaks from a shadow cover for about 99% of the film, emerging in the last minutes in a cool symbolic gesture for what his film is trying to accomplish. By talking about how masturbation is often used as a punchline, how it could be beneficial, the history and animal kingdom comparisons, Nicholas is bringing the topic out of the shadows and trying to make it more mainstream. Even if it does not work, this is a valiant and provocative effort.

Obviously, there is nudity and sexual situations, so I don’t think I can recommend it to everyone. But, this self-love story is worth a look for everyone who is old enough/allowed to view it.

“Sticky: A (Self) Love Story,” A DOCUMENTARY ON MASTURBATION, to DVD and VOD across North America on February 1st.

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