Adam Levine and Behati Prinsoo in Maroon 5 film clip for Animals.
If only someone had warned Adam Levine.
The Maroon 5 frontman has ditched his soulful croons and thrusting Mick Jagger tributes to follow in Thicke’s footsteps. His new song Animals seems to be directly inspired by Blurred Lines and an episode of Crimewatch.
It begins: “Baby, I'm preying on you tonight / Hunt you down eat you alive… Maybe you think that you can hide / I can smell your scent for miles.”
As you may have guessed, the song tells the story of a stalker, played by none other than Levine. Cue a video that looks more like an 80s slasher movie than the sort of thing you’d see on MTV.
It shows Levine playing the part of a butcher who stalks an attractive blonde lady – weirdly played by his real-life wife, and Victoria’s Secret model, Behati Prinsoo. He takes photographs of her in varying states of undress, which he develops in his dark room, and follows her around the city.
If that wasn’t terrifying enough, he also breaks into her apartment and lies besides her when she sleeps. He fantasises about having blood-soaked sex with her – in some rather graphic scenes - and one night follows her to a club where he creepily taps her on the shoulder. She looks uncomfortable. After a few more bloody scenes, and Levine caressing animal corpses, the video ends with him still standing outside of her window in the rain.
Unsurprisingly, it has already been criticised by groups against sexual assault and violence against women. RAINN – America’s Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network – has stated: “Maroon 5’s video for Animals is a dangerous depiction of a stalker’s fantasy - and no one should ever confuse the criminal act of stalking with romance. The trivialisation of these serious crimes, like stalking, should have no place in the entertainment industry."
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in America, added: “The lyrics to Maroon 5’s Animals convey aggressive, intrusive behaviour and paint women as prey. While many will chalk this up to being 'just a music video,' it’s still harmful because it reinforces stereotypes of male dominance and sexual entitlement, which we know have real-life consequences."
I couldn’t agree more. Maroon 5's video romanticises stalking in a way that films or novels centred around the same topic rarely do. Take Sleeping With The Enemy, the thriller where Julia Roberts escapes her abusive, controlling husband, Patrick Bergin. The film depicts stalking in its own artistic way, but also leaves the viewer fully aware that it is a crime which can have serious physical and emotional effects.
Animals could possibly be forgiven, or at least understood, if it had purer aims in trying to raise awareness about stalking. But instead, it seems that Levine is just trying to be controversial for the sake of being “cool”. He glamourises a serious crime, and when he is picture topless caressing animal corpses in the butcher’s factory, goes close to mocking in.
On a more subtle note, he also perpetuates the idea that stalking is typically done by a love-struck man fantasising over an attractive woman. While cases like this do exist, it isn’t always the norm. Something that’s on the rise now is work-place stalking where victims are stalked because of the jobs they occupy.
As Laura Richards, founder and chief executive of the UK's national stalking advocacy service Paladin, told me: “We spend quite a lot of time, energy and commitment talking about how stalking can occur with domestic violence and there are specialised services [in that area]. But we also get a lot of cases where women don’t have a relationship with their stalker.
“People don’t understand it can happen to anybody. It’s not always about an attractive female. I wouldn’t want people to think it’s just attractive women being stalked. Whatever attracts the stalker to the person is quite idiosyncratic and in their eyes.”
By using a Victoria’s Secret model, Levine gives credence this idea that it is just beautiful women who are stalked. The fact that Prinsoo is also his new bride just makes the scenario even more uncomfortable, as do the bizarre bloody sex scenes that blur the line (more Thicke influences?) between fantasy and reality.
It’s no surprise that the video, and its lyrics, are now under fire on Twitter, with people summing it up as: “horrendous”, “disgusting” and downright “creepy.” Let's hope it's the last time an artist tries to copy Robin Thicke.