Music videos originally served the purpose of creating another world in which artists could gain public relations, expand their popular appeal, and entertain their audience. Over the years, the visual imagery in music videos have increasingly become very critical as they’ve become major outlets for publicizing views and stereotypes that influences society. One of the most prominent features of modern music videos is the portrayal of gender roles. In the music video, Animals by Maroon 5, the portrayal of male dominance and sexual privilege through stalking, voyeurism, figurative behavior, and bloody imagery reveals to the popular culture that women are objectified as objects of desire and passing casualties. Although, this act is not explicitly approved, Jean Kilbourne presents arguments in her paper where this horrendous act is implied indirectly for the popular culture to make it seem acceptable.
The music video starts off with a character, Adam Levine, who works in a butcher shop. Immediately, one can tell that something is off about the character. Adam’s attention focuses on the woman who walks into the shop. From there, Adam’s sexual desire for her grew immensely. Out of his work, Adam would follow and hide from the young lady. While doing so, he also snaps photos of her, making her his predatory obsession. There was even a point to where Adam broke into her house and watched her sleep. Summarized, Adam was basically made to be viewed as a stalker.
The intimacy seeker disguises this behavior in the video by being shirtless and showing off his muscles which distracts viewers from the crime the character was committing. In the popular culture, women are most likely to go for the “bad boy” type when it comes to relationships because women believe men are more attractive this way. In the paper, “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt.” By Jean Kilbourne, Kilbourne states, “Indeed the very worst kind of man for a woman to be in an intimate relationship with, often a truly dangerous man, is the one considered most sexy and desirable in popular culture.” (491)Because women are more drawn to “bad boys” this caused a distraction to the real crime the character in the music video was committing. Stalking is a very serious crime and the music video is normalizing and glorifying this offense.
Within this music video, the act of voyeurism is evident. Voyeurism is the practice of gaining sexual satisfaction from secretly observing others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity. As Adam snaps photos of the lady, he also snaps photos of when she is changing in her apartment. In his developing room, one can see that pictures of her naked were everywhere in the room. There was a moment where Adam tried to approach the woman in a club and she rejected him. After she rejected Adam, he started fantasizing having sex with her covered in blood. Furthermore, the objectification of the woman continues as the images of her rarely show her face and focuses more on her nude body. Thus, proves that the character does not have an emotional attachment to her, but he does have a sexual attachment to her. The popular culture tends to ignore situations like these in music videos. According to Jean Kilbourne, she states, “Most of us become numb to these images…” (499) The popular culture normalized this to the point where voyeurism happens everywhere at any time. As music videos related to Animals by Maroon 5 continue to come out, the more distance it’s putting to the violence and assault towards the popular culture.
Figurative behavior is used in the music video to compare women as objects of desire and passing casualties. The song, Animals by Maroon 5 was supposed to invoke a love song, instead it sounded like the complete opposite of a love song. The song immediately starts off with the lyrics, “Baby I’m preying on you tonight/Hunt you down eat you alive” This metaphor compares to the relationship of the woman and Adam in the video. As animals chase their prey in order to kill and eat them, Adam will not necessarily kill the woman but will chase her until he has sex with her. The song continues with “Maybe you think that you can hide/I can smell your scent for miles” This alludes to his sexual desire towards the woman to the far scent abilities of some animals. The woman’s basic human rights are swept away when it come to her and Adam, hence the stalking Adam does in the video. To the viewers, these set of lyrics are essentially “encouraging men to never take no for an answer.” (Kilbourne,492) Because Adam is sexually obsessed with the woman, she has no choice but to stick with him. Women are often looked down on as weak and vulnerable. Men continue to be sexually aggressive to women because the popular culture allow it.
While most people who listen to this song may not notice what the words are saying, the video vividly supports the lyrics in a way one wouldn’t imagine. The video contains bloody imagery that shocked many of the viewers. For example, after the woman rejected Adam in the club, he began to fantasize having sex with the lady while covered in a cascade of blood. This was shocking because the lady was not interested in Adam, yet h still has thoughts about wanting to have sex with her even though she was not interested at all. Another example of these erotic scenes included Adam in a meat freezer that was filled with meat carcasses. In the freezer, Adam would dance and punch the meat which represent women and/or the woman in the video. In the couple of scenes with Adam being in the meat freezer he was shirtless with blood smeared all over him and he was also grinning as if he was enjoying himself.
It was almost as if he had become psychotic. Based on the article, “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt.” Jean Kilbourne states, “Ads don’t directly cause violence, of course, But the violent images contribute to the state of terror. And objectification and disconnection create a climate in which there is widespread and increasing violence.” (499) Although, not implied explicitly, this scene revealed to the popular culture that it’s okay to sexually and physically assault women. Women have to be cautious even in their own homes because of how men believe that women are nothing but objects of desire and passing causalities.
In the tune, Animals by Maroon 5, we’ve gone through the portrayal of male dominance and sexual privilege through stalking, voyeurism, figurative behavior, and bloody imagery. As the popular culture continues to allow artists to use their music videos in a male dominance over female stereotype, women will continue to be treated as objects of desire and fantasy. Women will continue to live in fear of a male whether they are in their own home orin an elevator with a male stranger.
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