There’s a public-relations maneuver common among campaigning politicians and disgraced celebrities that involves the deployment of self-awareness as defense mechanism. The idea is that if you acknowledge the public’s perception of you (“I recognize that I frequently appear to be insincere”), then that perception is neutralized. Everyone is familiar with this trick, yet it still has a high success rate. People are so used to being lied to that even a slight nod toward the truth is seen as refreshing, even if the truth itself hasn’t changed.
Adam Levine has been working this angle hard in the lead-up to Maroon 5’s new album, V. A recent GQ profile begins with Levine making an extended argument that he is not a douchebag, which is definitely a thing that non-douchebags do all the time. The headline, apparently suggested by Levine himself, is even needier: “Adam Levine Doesn’t Care If You Like Him (But He’d Really Prefer That You Did).” For Rolling Stone, Levine switched from cocksure pleading to a cocksure shrug. “I much more enjoy the shit that I know is gonna be polarizing in some way,” he says. “If some people don’t absolutely fucking hate it, you’re doing something wrong, in my opinion.” This statement will seem ridiculous only if you’ve actually heard Levine’s music. V is hardly a polarizing record. It’s possible to hate it, I guess, but “fucking hate it”? Really? Considering what’s happened in the world in just the past month, getting angry at a Maroon 5 album seems almost obscene.