Why Adam Levine’s DM Cringes Are Perfect For The Meme Machine

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A royal era ending in the UK. A war raging across Europe. A constant drumbeat of creeping inflation, squeezing household budgets. An omnipresent concern that the pandemic is not over. The world is in a strange place and anxiety levels are through the roof. Things are so bad, in fact, that people — at least those online — are looking to Adam Levine for comfort.

In recent days, the Maroon 5 singer has been the subject of allegations that he sent flirtatious Instagram messages to a series of women. Model Sumner Stroh also alleged that Levine cheated on his wife, Behati Prinsloo, last year. In an Instagram Story, Levine admitted to talking to the women “in a flirtatious way,” but denied having a physical affair. A number of other women have since shared similar posts which they claim are from Levine.

These posts have given whole new fodder to the internet’s meme machine, making it impossible to scroll through Instagram, TikTok or Twitter without being confronted with jokes taking screenshots of the alleged posts out of context.

“Memes tend to spread fast and far when they’re easy to understand without the initial topical context and when it’s technically easy for people to participate in them through a remix,” says Alex Turvy, PhD student at Tulane University in New Orleans. who studies memes. “This one has both in spades.”

The raw material – Levine’s alleged sexting – is vague enough to be deployed in a number of different situations. And they’re as subtle as some of Maroon 5’s most crooning songs. “That kind of meme requires almost no cultural literacy,” says Turvy, “so it can be understood and created by virtually anyone.”

And they are created by many people. People remixed Levine’s alleged request that he “might need to see the loot” from Stroh, followed by the word “Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk” (with 25 Ks), in the pirate spirit, among others. A Twitter user said it was “really a gift and we need to incorporate it into the lexicon.”

“It’s the perfect combination of the relatability of celebrities — to see someone so polite being so grumpy in text to express a feeling we’ve all had at some point — and the sheer absurdity of it,” says Amanda. Brennan, Senior Director of Trends at XX Artists, a marketing agency. Don Caldwell, editor of Know Your Meme, agrees. “It’s like a teenager wrote them, which makes them super memorable.”

“Loot” is just one of the treasures of Levine’s alleged DMs. Another two-part missive also went viral this week. “It’s really unreal how fucking sexy you are / As if it blows my mind” is, on the face of it, an affirmation of a woman’s attractiveness. But taken out of context by internet mememakers, it has been turned into an ode to mozzarella sticks and one reinterpretation of the Goldilocks fairy taleamong others.

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