I know what you're thinking: Adam Levine needs no defense. The Maroon 5 frontman/Voice judge/sometime actor just won what is among the best-known and most meaningless of all of America's meaningless annual awards, People's Sexiest Man Alive. He does a fine job of defending himself, as he did in his self-mocking "acceptance speech" on last night's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.
"A lot of people kinda trivialize this sort of thing," he said. "They say it's shallow, they say it's think a silly media stunt used to sell magazines, and perpetuate the image of Hollywood being based on looks. And that's totally true. It is, but I'm completely cool with that."
"Ryan Gosling, thanks for turning this down constantly," he joked later. He explained that sharing this this title with Nick Nolte, 1992's SML, showed him that such an honor was maybe not as out of reach as he previously thought.
Adam Levine is doing just fine. And yet, I feel inclined to speak my piece on the issue, because it has been met with such derision that there are stories about the stories.
"No one agrees," shouted Spin from its story's headline.
"TERRIBLE NEWS," said Gawker sister site Jezebel in one of three posts it has run on the matter in the past week. In her rebuttal, Jezebel's very funny Madeleine Davies called Levine "the human equivalent of testing positive for chlamydia" and the "Person Who Most Reminds You of an Infection You Got from a Hot Tub."
Those two things are among those I like most about the self-described "manwhore." For years, Levine has carried his sexuality confidently, illustrating in words the kind of swagger that few can achieve IRL. His awareness of his ability to fuck practically everyone he encounters (even a naysayer like Jezebel's Laura Beck, who wrote "I just want to fuck him and then kill him. IS THAT SO WRONG?" in her rebuttal) is offset with a more cultivated understanding of it than a typical misogynist pig. He has described himself as "promiscuous" and a slut. The default anti-woman asshole would take these qualities for granted, as "what men do," but Levine is more thoughtful about his own behavior than, frankly, he needs to be. In 2011, he told Out, "With a lot of guys who are hypersexual, it comes from some sort of disdain or dislike—they're guys who love getting laid but don't really respect women. That doesn't mean that I haven't been totally promiscuous and slutty in my lifetime, because I have."
That's more sensitive than your average manwhore.
But fuck sensitivity. How does he fuck? The first time I ever found this dude attractive enough to lust after occurred during last year's season premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum, when he mounted Jenna Dewan (incidentally, the wife of last year's Sexiest Man Alive, Channing Tatum):
I don't know if it's the irrepressible libido that he telegraphs so well, or the suggestion of his preference for spit lube that reminds me of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal fucking doggystyle in Brokeback Mountain (mmmm, spit lube), but this convinced me entirely that Adam Levine is a fuckable motherfucker.
One method of backlash commentators have taken to is posting a list of his quotes to prove that Levine is a douchebag, People's honor be damned. One of these that comes up again and again is his assertion to Details that yoga is good for fucking. I don't understand what is unsexy about a guy who cares about his performance enough to work on it (through yoga!), who's doing it not just for himself but the person (or people) he's with.
I want someone who's going to train and work me the fuck out. I want someone who's going to make the relatively thin and short-lived lube that is spit worth using.
From a logistical standpoint, Levine is the perfect choice this year. Last year's Sexiest, Tatum, was a no-brainer. 2012 was that giant slab of beef's year, through and through, and there is yet to be a sexier, higher-profile A-lister to come along. You get the sense of how solid a fuck machine is by just looking at Tatum's outline. Think back to the much derided pick from 2011, Bradley Cooper, and how who didn't "win" (Ryan Gosling) became the real story. The debate reinvigorated the Sexiest Man Alive title with controversy. It is in People's best interest to be divisive, just as when communicating in public, especially on the internet, it is in people's best interest to be divisive.
Levine's incredibly sexy comfort with his sexuality extends beyond his attitude toward women. He also told Out:
I'm extremely comfortable in my sexuality, so I can think, Oh, that's a good-looking dude. Acknowledging that someone's attractive and wanting to fuck a dude are two different things.
There's no way to hide my straightness, but if people didn't think there was a small chance I was gay, then I wouldn't be doing my job very well. Look at the best ones, guys whose sexuality was always questioned. Bowie. Jagger. Freddie Mercury. I wouldn't be the front man of a band if that question hadn't come up at some point.
He has given entire interviews about his emphatic, pro-gay stance, in which he says that his ability to see what's right has nothing to do with having a gay brother.
All of these things contribute to the often-elusive concept of sexiness. Adam Levine is not the most beautiful guy, who ever existed. Robin Long's assessment of him that went like this in the Daily News, though goes overboard:
"If scrawny body, giraffe-necked, 2-day stubble guys with hair growth creeping down their necks are 'in,' then yes, I can see why People chose this guy."
The dude is ripped, stubble is hot, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a long neck (has Long never seen America's Next Top Model?). I suppose that it's un-P.C. in the age of privilege-shaming for a white, straight man to exhibit Levine's overt brand of confidence. I suppose that regardless of what people would accept (and perhaps fetishize) from a sex partner can be written off as douchebaggery from behind a computer screen. But I think for better or worse, gay men respond to such douchiness in our unending quest for and veneration of masculinity. Douchebags can be hot, too.
Because of this, and because of Levine's outspoken politics, it makes sense that women seem to care less about this than, for example, me. Sorry ladies and everyone else who disagrees: this year's Sexiest Man Alive is for the gays.
P.S. "Makes Me Wonder" is a quality jam that achieves next-level blue-eyed soul status by copying not contemporary hip-hop soul, but blue-eyed soul antecedents (specifically Hall & Oates) themselves. It's perfect pop.
[Image via Getty]