NOBODY WOULD WANT their sexts entered into the public record, and thankfully, most of us will never suffer that humiliation. But if you’re Adam Levine, the married frontman of Maroon 5 who “crossed the line” (his words) in conversations with Instagram model Sumner Stroh, you might reasonably expect those lewd messages to leak at some point. And here we are.
Stroh, who claims she and Levine carried on an affair for about a year (which he denies), on Monday shared screenshots of their risqué Instagram DMs via her TikTok account. Soon after, two more women offered evidence of Levine’s alleged inappropriate advances. Since all this stuff went viral, the internet has been reeling — not so much from the prospect of Levine’s infidelity, however. It’s more that the 43-year-old musician sounds “like he’s 17 and hasn’t ever fucked,” as an observer on Twitter put it. This is the game a world-famous pop star is throwing down? The guy is so cartoonishly thirsty he may as well be hitting himself in the head with a hammer.
In no time at all, a few of Levine’s choice lines flooded the cultural consciousness as prime examples of how not to flirt: “Holy fucking fuck,” “That body of yours is absurd,” and, perhaps the cringiest remark of all, “I may need to see the booty” will forever be part of the singer’s legacy. Once we’d had the chance to process the sheer dorkiness of his style, our finest shitposters went to work decontextualizing these fragments. That thing about an absurd body? Works much better when you’re describing a fine red wine, or maybe the holy Eucharist.
The texts “It is truly unreal how fucking hot you are / Like it blows my mind” are a lesser offense to good taste than some, even if they do suggest certain limitations to Levine’s way with words. Happily, that moment of zero chill and minimal wit is now enjoying a second life as literal commentary. Instead of describing a person, it refers to anything overheated: a microwaved Hot Pocket, a 1990s-era printer, a nuclear reactor, a black hole, or porridge sampled by Goldilocks.
As for the “booty” sext, well, the pirate jokes were inevitable. Yet what first registered as Levine’s greatest faux pas — both oddly formal and deeply awkward — also had its defenders. If this sentiment were expressed by someone besides an alleged cheater, it might even be charming. Hey, when you’re really into someone, you’re more than willing to overlook these quirks in communication. Who among us has not, at some point, needed to see the booty?
Yes, Levine is too reliant on exaggerated permutations of the word “fuck,” and he needs to get beyond stating the obvious (Instagram models are well aware that they’re hot). He appears wholly incapable of playful innuendo. Finally, of course, he would be wise to save any lusty exclamations for Behati Prinsloo, his wife and the mother of his two children. But he’s certainly given the rest of us sexters a jolt of confidence, and he didn’t say anything nearly as creepy as Jeff Bezos calling his mistress “alive girl,” so thanks, dude. It’s actually sort of impressive that you can be this thoroughly exposed and not vanish into thin air from embarrassment.
Let’s face it: no sext, no matter how clever it read at the time, is going to look ideal in the harsh light of day. Better to steer clear of the whole business and stick to a true love language: memes.