How the Adam Levine and Sumner Stroh Controversy Represents our Cultural Decay

Stacey Kaliabakos ‘23

Chief Opinions Editor

Today, I’d like to share with you what ought to be one of the scummiest pop culture stories as of late. This story revolves around two people: Adam Levine, the lead singer of the band Maroon 5, and Sumner Stroh, a decently popular Instagram model. On September 19, 2022, Stroh posted a TikTok video that has since garnered over 20 million views on the platform alone. In this video, she claimed that she had had a yearlong affair with Levine, a married man with two children and a third on the way. The reason Stroh decided to bring this allegation to social media stemmed from a message she received through Instagram from Levine, which read, “OK, serious question. I’m having another baby and if it’s [a] boy I really wanna name it Sumner. You OK with that? DEAD serious,” followed by a shrugging emoji. Stroh said that she shared a screenshot of these messages with a few friends, and one of them ended up selling the story to a tabloid. In order to do some damage control and to try to take control of the story before it hit the stands, Stroh decided to make the aforementioned TikTok. Stroh also made some interesting comments during her video. She began, “Essentially, I was having an affair with a man who is married to a Victoria’s Secret model. At the time, I was young, I was naive, and I mean quite frankly I feel exploited… I was very easily manipulated. My morals were unknowingly compromised. I was completely manipulated. … [But] I had sent some screenshots recklessly to some friends that I trusted, and one had attempted to sell [them]. So here I am.” 

People were reasonably confused and frustrated with her TikTok. In her video, all she seemed to do was play the victim. She claimed that she was “young and naive” and “new to the LA scene.” However, Stroh is currently 23 years old, and the alleged affair only ended, according to several sources, about six months ago. I doubt that she had done enough emotional growing up to make a difference during that time. Additionally, she blames being new to the “LA scene.” How does your place of work have anything to do with the state of your moral compass? It’s also worth mentioning that she completely “forgot” to apologize to Levine’s wife, Behati Prinsloo, and to her two children.

Due to a lot of negative comments and social pressure, Stroh came out with a follow-up video, which she filmed while on vacation in Costa Rica. She claimed that in her initial video, she had wanted to talk about how disgusted she was with herself and her choice to engage in this affair, but she didn’t get the chance. She also said that she was under the impression that Levine’s marriage had ended and that they were just “keeping it quiet,” which does not make sense for many reasons. Firstly, it is quite easy to fact check if you have access to the Internet. Additionally, a marriage is not over unless divorce papers are signed and finalized, which she undoubtedly knew they were not. She continued by suggesting that Levine messaging her from his real, verified account was a manipulation tactic in itself, but she refused to elaborate on how and why she believed that. She finished by lamenting, “In retrospect, I wish I would’ve questioned things more. I wish I wasn’t so naive. But, you know, being naive is not an excuse for what I did and the role I played in this,” and in the last five seconds apologized to Behati and her children.

Seeing her videos back to back as this story unfolded made me irate. It was so evident to me that this girl, who is three years older than me (so not that young) and undoubtedly KNEW what she was doing, had absolutely no remorse for potentially destroying someone’s family. She obviously considered her affair amusing to begin with, and was unashamed enough to share screenshots of her DMs entertaining Adam Levine with her friends. And she evidently surrounds herself with people so untrustworthy that would sell her information to the press, so it seems as if she has poor judgment about a variety of things. I am also willing to bet that she is lying about not knowing he was still married. Over the course of the affair, she posted a multitude of TikToks (all of which have now been deleted) hinting at her relationship in an awfully sly and suggestive manner. First, she posted a TikTok that was a recording of herself on her bed laughing to the song “Beautiful Mistakes” by Maroon 5 with the caption “I look at my life and just laugh sometimes.” Very suspicious, in my opinion. Additionally, in March she posted a TikTok of herself looking sad which was captioned “When he on tour,” obviously not hiding that she is dating a musician. She also posted a video laughing sarcastically to an audio that said “When he says he only likes blondes” (Behati Prinsloo is blonde and she is a brunette) and one where she was dressed as a provocative Victoria’s Secret model. These videos truly thrust her claim that she was unaware her relationship was an affair onto thin ice. Anyway, once she figured it out, the right thing to do would have been to privately apologize to Behati Prinsloo, not to make herself the victim and publicize this terrible situation, especially while Levine’s wife is pregnant.

I have spent a lot of time addressing Stroh’s mistakes, but Adam Levine is equally in the wrong. It is evident that Levine has no virtue or values. He has been married to his wife since 2014 and has apparently traded her loyalty and love for flirting with an Instagram model he does not even know. He did come out with a statement after Stroh released her TikToks, writing on Instagram: “I did not have an affair, nevertheless, I crossed the line during a regrettable period of my life. In certain instances it became inappropriate. I have addressed that and taken proactive steps to remedy this with my family…My wife and my family is all I care about in this world. To be this naive and stupid enough to risk the only thing that truly matters to me was the greatest mistake I could ever make. I will never make it again. I take full responsibility. We will get through it and we will get through it together.” It’s hard to believe his statement when faced with the screenshots that Stroh provided in her videos. Consequently, it is also hard to believe that he truly cares about his wife and children, especially since he was apparently so sick in the head that he asked Stroh if he could name his unborn child after her. Men always cheat because they are insecure and immature. Unfortunately, even though he is literally married to a model and has two beautiful daughters, he was willing to put his family in jeopardy for some short-lived extra-marital pleasure. His children will have to deal with this drama and the consequences of his actions as they grow up, and his wife has been publicly humiliated and will be forced to contend with the trauma of this news while she is carrying a child. 

Our society is in need of repair. We must do better for men in order to prevent this problem (which stems from uncontrolled and unbridled lust) from happening because it is way too prevalent nowadays. We also need to encourage women against actively engaging in these affairs and to stop using their natural beauty to attempt to climb social and monetary ladders. In 2022, commitment seems to be regarded as old fashioned. Couples constantly break up and marriages end because everyone is terrified of commitment or just want to “work on themselves.” We also live within the midst of hookup culture, where people simply refuse to maintain meaningful emotional connections with others. Social media has played a significant role in this cultural decay– after all, the affair addressed in this article may have never happened if Levine could not reach Stroh on Instagram. Instagram itself has become a cesspool of pornography and vile behavior that has corrupted young people’s minds. When children and teenagers look at celebrities like Adam Levine and Sumner Stroh who embody such terrible values, they may model themselves after them, perpetuating such harmful norms to a higher and higher degree. This societal trajectory is unsustainable and needs to end. 

Categories: Opinions

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