More than Animals


Olivia Aldridge, Staff Writer

After the success of Maroon 5’s debut album Songs About Jane, Maroon 5 has spun out hit after formulaic hit, “Animals” being the most recent to join the ranks of “Moves Like Jagger,” “One Last Night,” and “Daylight.”

I could spout out critiques of the Top 40 ringer’s poppy tunes; I could rant about the emptiness of its lyrics or how Maroon 5 is more a brand name than a band name, as the group, at this point, is little more than Adam Levine with backup synths. But that’s all beside the point, which is that I am deeply bothered by “Animals.” Maroon 5 has stepped far over the line both lyrically and visually in the official music video for this song.

With key lyrics such as “Baby I’m preying on you tonight / Hunt you down eat you alive / Don’t deny the animal that comes alive when I’m inside you,” “Animals” is already lyrically threatening enough. To express a sex as a predator/prey relationship implies that the prey has no choice in the matter, and furthermore depicts the “prey” (presumably a woman, since this song is performed by a heterosexual male) as an object that exists to sate the hunger of a somehow dominant creature.

The culmination of this nausea-inducing chorus is that all of this is natural, because Adam Levine and whatever poor girl he’s “preying on” tonight are “just like animals,” implying that all of this entitlement and creepiness is instinctual. That’s right, ladies: Adam just can’t help it. In fact, he’s instinctually obligated to hunt you down.

But it gets worse. The video takes this warped view of sexual relationships to a whole new level, featuring a crazy-eyed Levine shirtless and smeared with blood as he hangs with butchered animals in a meat locker and fantasizes about bloody sex with the woman he is obsessively stalking—plot twist, it’s his wife in real life, model Behati Prinsloo. Levine is shown at a desk with hundreds of pictures of Prinsloo, staring into her window while she changes her clothes, and lying next to her on her bed while she sleeps.

After I first watched the video for “Animals” (which was also my first listen of the song), I was shocked, scandalized and honestly disgusted. I expected a huge backlash from the feminist community within days. But for some reason, that hasn’t really happened yet.

True, there have been negative reviews of this video, which Levine said he visualized himself in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, calling it “really dark and weird and cool.” Articles decrying the video have been published in The Guardian Review and The Independent. Several anti-sexual assault groups have expressed their disapproval of the video; PETA, on the other hand, supported the video due to its supposedly accurate portrayal of the horrendousness of the meat industry, saying that it may even cause more people to become vegans. Right.

But I’ve yet to witness the mainstream disapproval I was expecting. I thought that the day after the video premiered, the “trending” module on the top-right of my Facebook homepage would be topped with something along the lines of “Maroon 5: Controversial “Animals” Video Sparks Outcry.” But I saw no such thing. Rather, I saw many comments on postings of the video, written by women who were not denouncing “Animals,” but supporting it, with comments such as “Adam Levine is so sexy he can stalk me any day!!!” and “SEXIEST STALKER ALIVE!!!!!”

That there are women who are so struck with Levine’s hotness credentials (he’s People’s Sexiest Man Alive this year) that they remain undisturbed by his antics in “Animals” is concerning beyond measure. Just as bothersome to me is that this song in of itself had garnered almost no negative commentary until the accompanying video was released. Isn’t the song warped enough in and of itself? Isn’t the idea that women are something to be devoured without asking their permission expressed pretty clearly in the lyrics of “Animals”?

When “Blurred Lines” dropped, both the media and the general public wasted no time demonizing Robin Thicke, who to this day remains a pop culture pariah. The thing is, disturbing as “Blurred Lines” is lyrically, its themes are not nearly as overt as they are in “Animals.” If “Blurred Lines” promotes rape culture, “Animals” does it one hundred times over. But Adam Levine and Maroon 5 seem to have completely retained their fan base because Levine is attractive.

So if you’re giving Adam Levine and his backup synths a pass because he’s hot, stop. Nobody should get a pass to glorify sexual assault and stalking. And if you’re giving him a pass because it was his wife who starred in the video, stop that, too, because the fact that Levine’s wife was willing to depict herself as a stalker’s prey dangerously normalizes the idea of a predator/prey relationship between men and women, and it dangerously suggests that stalking can actually be romantic.

Humans are technically animals, true, but we are more than that. We are conscious, we are sentient, we are capable of philosophy and morality and we have to make choices to respect and protect one another every day.