Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was once crowned People's Sexiest Man Alive. Now, he's the creepiest.
In the just-released video for Maroon 5's "Animals," Levine plays a butcher who is obsessed with Levine's (real world) new wife Behati Prinsloo. Levine stalks, photographs and, after facing rejection in a club, finds his way into bed with Prinsloo, a series of events culminating in a gory sex scene. The video closes with Levine outside of Prinsloo's window, staring up, leaving us to wonder whether their romantic bloodbath was just a twisted dream in Levine's head.
The bloody animal carcasses and disconcerting style of music video auteur Samuel Bayer are creepy enough without Levine's play on very serious themes of sexual violence. Levine intends to invoke an intense love song with his lyrics: "Baby I'm preying on you tonight / Hunt you down / Eat you alive / Just like animals. Maybe you think that you can hide / I can smell your scent for miles / Just like animals."
Instead, we get a snuff film.
"We understand a good metaphor, but there's just something about comparing a woman – one which Levine is sexually interested in, by the way – to prey just doesn't sit right," rightly notes Entertainment Tonight's Sophie Schillaci. "With feminism and human rights at the forefront of national consciousness (see: Emma Watson's passionate #HeForShe United Nations speech; also: the horrifying invasion of privacy faced by female celebrities who've had their private and personal photos stolen), the timing of this single could not have been worse."
Don't get me wrong: 'Animals' is a fantastic, catchy anthem, driven by Levine's distinct voice. But the similarities between Levine's video and recent headlines are too disturbing. His stalking too closely recalls the experiences of female undergrads at Columbia University, who are fighting an uphill battle with the administration to take sexual assault seriously; his voyeuristic photography too closely reminds us of the recent spate of celebrity nude leaks and the sexual threats suffered by women everywhere when they speak out against misogyny, online and off.
It's unclear whether this was the coherent, deliberate connection Levine and Bayer sought to invoke, and it doesn't necessarily matter: After all, Levine and Maroon 5 are artists, and they're entitled to their artistic vision. But that vision isn't helped by the fact that Levine is, well, kind of the worst. After People awarded Levine their paper crown, Jezebel pointed out — with Levine's own quotes, no less — that despite his physical features and success, Levine's actually a textbook artistic narcissist and misogynist. "He has a human shape and face where his face should be, which are both handsome qualities," quipped Madeleine Davis in 2013. "He is symmetrical in the way that People's Sexiest Men Alive tend to be symmetrical. That leaves us with his terribly smug personality and terribly terrible music."
For a former 'Sexiest Man Alive,' there is nothing sexy about this video, even if you discount the over-the-top deployment of sexual violence. Making out in the rain is attractive — blood, not so much.