OCD: Humorous fodder for Hollywood screenwriters

wooden doors

In OCD hell, you’d have to ensure each of these doors was locked before you could leave for work.

I wrote a piece in August about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. And because I’m so obsessed with the subject, I think I’ll write another.

Besides, it beats thinking up a new topic for this week. My motto: Why work harder when you can simply opt not to?

Hey, it works for Congress.

If you’re an optimist, you’ll agree OCD has its benefits. In my previous post, I mentioned that I never forget to lock my front door. That’s because I can’t leave my apartment without checking my lock five times. OCD makes me thorough.

Unfortunately, it also makes me 10 minutes late to work. Knowing my door’s locked is little consolation when my boss is chewing my hide.

Another benefit of OCD is it provides great fodder for Hollywood screenwriters. Who can forget Jack Nicholson in the completely forgettable film As Good As It Gets? His character is afraid of touching door handles, brings his own silverware to restaurants and washes his hands constantly. Nevertheless, he somehow seduces Helen Hunt. (But then again, so did Paul Reiser and Mel Gibson, so I’m not too sure if that’s a noteworthy accomplishment.)

And then there’s my favorite OCD flick, Matchstick Men, in which Nicolas Cage plays a chain-smoking con artist who cleans compulsively and hyperventilates at the thought of dirty carpet. Cage immerses himself in the character so completely, it coaxes you into forgiving him for starring in Knowing. His nervous, hiccuping speech and spastic tics rival some of the best performances in physical comedy I’ve seen — including Billy Bob Thornton’s sex scene in Monster’s Ball.

And finally, there’s Monk, the Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning TV series in which Tony Shalhoub plays an obsessive-compulsive private detective who solves homicides.

I’ll admit, I’ve never watched Monk. I always thought it was just a show about, you know, a monk.  And if I wanted to see insufferable celibacy, I could just observe my own life.

However, it’s got great reviews on IMDB.com. (But then again, so does The Proposal, so who knows.)

Unlike cerebral palsy or schizophrenia, OCD is a disorder that provides moviegoers an excellent form of comic relief. After all, I don’t remember chuckles erupting when Russell Crowe underwent electric-shock treatment in A Beautiful Mind. But Nicolas Cage demanding people remove their shoes before entering his home, then having a panic attack when someone drops food on his carpet — now that’s pretty darn funny.

OCD doesn’t garner the same sensitivity as other disorders. Indeed, it often invites laughter. As one of the OCD-afflicted, I admit that compulsive behaviors are ridiculous. In fact, most people with OCD know they’re ridiculous.

That’s what makes OCD so distressing. Rationality has nothing to do with it. People who have OCD often are ashamed to perform their rituals because they’re all too aware of how strange and unnecessary they are. You have to go through the motions like an insentient robot — kind of like when your girlfriend takes you to visit her parents for the weekend.

“What’s that?” called my girlfriend* from the next room.

Nothing, hon. Just working on my blog.

I do find it interesting how in today’s ultra-PC world, there’s not much outrage over films that poke fun at OCD. Not that I think there should be. Personally, I think laughing at OCD is a great way of coping with it.

But I’m surprised you don’t hear much protesting of movies such as Matchstick Men and claims that they exploit OCD sufferers. After all, everyone’s scared of being offensive these days. I mean, I can’t even tell a blonde joke without my girlfriend getting all mad and —

“What’s that?” called my girlfriend from the next room.

Nothing, hon. Blogging.

Anyway, most movies I’ve seen don’t exploit OCD sufferers at all. Films such as As Good As It Gets and Matchstick Men — as well as the TV series Monk, I’m told — treat OCD with maturity and sensitivity.

For example, Matchstick Men invites us to laugh at Nicolas Cage’s tics, but it also shows the audience his character’s isolation and makes you emphasize with his problem. It’s helpful in educating people on what OCD actually is and what it involves. You’re invited to laugh at the character, but it’s an understanding laughter, not a mean-spirited one.

I was thinking of writing a screenplay that depicts my own OCD experiences. I just need a suitable actor to portray me. Nicolas Cage would be a good choice. Or even Jack Nicholson.

“How about Helen Hunt?” called my girlfriend from the next room. “You and her are tall, and you both have the same feminine features.”

Ha, ha. Very funny, I said. Now let me finish this up. I’m almost done.

“Good,” said my girlfriend, walking into the room. “Because we got to hit the road if we’re going to visit my parents. Remember?”

Yes, dear, I said. Sounds like fun.

See? Insentient robot.

*Please note, this post is categorized under “Fiction.” For creative purposes, it may depict characters or situations that don’t exist in real life. 
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21 thoughts on “OCD: Humorous fodder for Hollywood screenwriters

  1. Flop til you drop "FTYD"

    I actually posted not too long ago about my step-grandmother who suffered from OCD, but back then we didn’t have a name for it… we just said it was “crazy” grandma and would poke fun that she had to chew 10X before swallowing… yes her number was 10. She took twice as long as you do. 🙂 I didn’t think it was so funny my 10 year old summer she babysat me and I had to be with her all day and her count of 10 on EVERYTHING. OMG. It would take forever to change my brother (infant at that time) and to do dishes, take out trash, ensure lights were turned off. I actually did a funny post about it as it is funny. We can poke humor at it… but only those that have had this experience can truly appreciate the light side of something that really disrupts the day/lifestyle. That light is off, that light is off, that light is off…my cigarette is out, it’s out and not burning, it’s not going to set a fire, that cigarette is out… damn it, you distracted me…now I have to start all over again. OMG. The faucet is off, those dishes are stacked and won’t fall, the pin on the diaper is closed and not poking the baby, the hose is no longer running and off.

    🙂

    Keep it coming… I can understand and somewhat relate!
    Sandi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      Sandi, I need to check out your post. I somehow missed that one, but it sounds great!

      It does feel like laughter is the best medicine when it comes to dealing with OCD. As I get older, I find I’m less afflicted than I used to be. Where once I might have circled the block to ensure the garage door went down, now I just keep driving. (But maybe that has less to do with my diminishing OCD, and more to do with my increasing laziness. Could be.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      I’ve never seen Monk … but never say never. I do tend to start watching shows years after their run has ended. I’m so out of touch, I’m still feeling the letdown from the Seinfeld finale.

      I’m never included in any water-cooler conversations, because while people are talking about The Walking Dead, I’m talking about the most recent Lonesome Dove installment I watched on DVD the previous night.

      So I will indeed have to watch Monk … but only after I finish my planned marathon viewing of Frasier.

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      1. Allen Post author

        I could pontificate for hours about how influential that show was, and how it made a huge impact on pop culture, yada yada yada.

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      2. Allen Post author

        And not to sound like someone from The Jerk Store (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it would clearly be the best Seinfeld-related blog out there.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      It does sound like my type of show. It sort of sounds like a modern-day Columbo, except without the rumpled coat and that terrible dramatic music TV shows had in the ’70s.

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      1. In My Cluttered Attic

        Oh yeah and I liked Monks first season jazz theme. The second season; Randy Newman took over with a more humorous talk through it theme. I enjoyed Columbo, but now I sadly find that most of the episodes look so dated when I come across them. Almost any show from the 70’s looks dated.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Allen Post author

        That’s a coincidence: my life on the weekends has a cool jazz theme, too (sort of like Night Court), but come Monday, it changes to the sad, mournful wailing of a lone violin. (Where’s a Randy Newman talk-it-through when you need one?)

        Yeah, I caught a Columbo on TV a few years ago, and talk about an eight-track flashback. He was standing in a room with orange carpet and green walls. I couldn’t believe how tacky it looked … until I realized it mirrored the very apartment I was living in. Ouch.

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      3. In My Cluttered Attic

        Yep, I feel if I were going to make any show today, I wouldn’t try to speculate about the future, because when we finally arrived at that date, even Marty Mcfly and Doc would see too few, if any of those predictions, not come to fruition. And I wouldn’t want to make a series with today’s settings, that would date it. Instead I’d try to focus on the past and make it a period piece. Then it would be less likely to become dated, and might even become timeless. Oh those orange carpets and green walls (not to mention those enormous gas guzzling cars), oh how the 1970’s became so ancient so fast.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Allen Post author

        Yeah, it’s hard to watch Back to the Future II today and not feel underwhelmed. By this time, we were supposed to have flying cars, TV-monitor restaurant servers and a fax machine in every room (as well as one built into my briefcase). I don’t even have a fax machine, period — which clearly shows that when it comes to technology, I’m woefully out-of-date.

        It’s true that TV shows often feel dated. Even the best-written, most spellbinding TV show of all time — Saved By the Bell — feels like someone vomited the ’90s onto a brightly colored flannel shirt. (And don’t get me started on the coffin-sized cell phone Zack ran around with.)

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      5. Allen Post author

        I have a feeling you’re right, Paul. Humanity’s innovation started with the creation of the wheel … and now it’s led us to this point, centuries later, to the development of the selfie-stick.

        Our ancestors would be proud.

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      6. Allen Post author

        Indeed, humanity has fulfilled its destiny. Now we can turn the planet over to the dogs or cats — whoever’s next in line. (Probably the dogs, as cats don’t form single-file lines.)

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