Violence in Music Vides
A recent reoccurring scenario in music videos has been male singers showing abusive behavior towards women and calling it art. The popular band Maroon 5 recently released the music video for “Animals”. This song’s lyrics include, “Baby, I’m preying on you tonight, hunt you down, eat you alive.” And “Maybe you think that you can hide, I can smell your scent for miles.” Hello, that’s serious stranger danger. What bothers me most is that the lyrics imply that the woman should want to be hunted down by him. The video itself has lead singer Levine playing the part of a nerdy butcher who stalks the pretty girl that hardly even knows he exists. Levine has hundreds of pictures he takes of her from afar. He even has a rather graphic fantasy of the girl and him having sex with blood falling on them. The girl in the video was played by his real wife which makes it unsettling that he’s making it seem like a cool and acceptable thing but the fact is, this is a real relationship going on so it’s a little strange. There is no sense from the video that this is a consensual fantasy being played out.
Adam Levine’s real wife starring as the girl he’s stalking sends a message that mirrors a similar incident with Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video. Robin Thicke and Pharrell said that they weren’t degrading women because they respected women because they had wives themselves. They used their wives as an excuse to objectify women and portray them in this sexualized manner. I think Levine did a similar move when he stalked his wife in the music video because he probably thought people think it’d be more socially acceptable.
This music video brought these stalker lyrics to life in a haunting display that Levine probably believed would be creepy and edgy. There’s nothing edgy and cool about abusive behavior being trivialized in popular culture. Putting it on display in this way adds to the social acceptability of rape and abuse. Likely, Adam Levine himself wasn’t intentionally endorsing abuse and sexual assault, but if he wanted to make a statement and do something really artsy, maybe he should do something with like actual animals like Katy Perry did in her music video.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) released a statement saying that, “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 someone with romance. The trivialization of these serious crimes, like stalking, should have no place in the entertainment industry.” It’d be different if Levine was attempting to send some kind of message about how wrong stalking is, but as this awesome article points out Levine told Access Hollywood last month that he had this “crazy idea” for the music video that was “really dark…and weird and cool” The Maroon 5 lead singer has a very different idea of what’s edgy, cool, and dark than what I believe. After watching this video, I felt extremely disturbed by how this relationship was portrayed. I felt the need to speak out about the fact that any person would view something as twisted as this could be viewed as art.
I get it, everyone interprets art in different way but this was taken too far. Another recent music video example of this was the music video for Lil John and DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What”. This video shows a man breaking into a woman’s apartment and consistently humping around her apartment. The woman starts throwing everything she can at him and try to get him to leave but that leads him to thrust again which leads to all her clothes being torn off except for her underwear. Then with another thrust, she’s knocked back to the wall, wearing a cute crop top, and extremely interested in this strange guy. In real life, that would be a red flag for unwanted sexual behaviour and classify as assault but since it’s a music video, it makes it cool. Disrupting Dinner Parties makes a fascinating point about this sends teenagers mixed messages about what consent is.
Recently in North America, more and more people are becoming aware of how prevalent rape culture is in our society, and people are doing what they can to fight against this. Videos such as Animals, Blurred Lines, and Turn Down For What send young people mixed messages about what it means to give consent and what classifies as wrong and right in relationships. These boundaries need to be established and one way to do so is to change how it is reflected in pop culture. Millions of young people watch these music videos and this can be an important frame of cultural reference. These videos aren’t explicitly promoting rape culture or saying that it’s okay to rape or abuse anyone, but it’s certainly slowing down the process of helping all people have the ability to distinguish between wrong and right when it comes to relationships.