Navigate to Arts & Letters section

People’s Sexiest Man Alive Is Adam Levine. Good for the Jews? Hint: No.

The Tattler: Out of the thousands of perfectly nice Adam Levines out there, they had to pick that one

Rachel Shukert
November 22, 2013
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs onstage during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 21, 2013, in Las Vegas.(Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs onstage during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 21, 2013, in Las Vegas.(Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

This week, People Magazine named Adam Levine 2013’s sexiest man alive.

I realize my opinion may be subjective, but it seems like this may be the most controversial coronation since Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. You know? Unlike other possible contenders having great years—your Cumberbatches, your Ejiofors, your Damons—Adam Levine is a smirking modelizer who publicly, proudly says things like “I only practice yoga because the classes are always packed with beautiful women” and “There are two kinds of men. There are men who are fucking misogynist pigs and then there are men who really love women, who think they’re the most amazing people in the world. And that’s me. Maybe the reason I was promiscuous and wanted to sleep with a lot of them, is that I love them so much.”

Not that People’s sweating it; Levine’s selection has brought them the best copy the feature has inspired in years, from “15 Quotes To Remind You That Adam Levine Is Still a Douche” to “Adam Levine Is a Twerp Who Has No Business Being the Sexiest Man Alive” to “Adam Levine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ title sparks online backlash.” (When the New York Daily News gets in on something, you know even your grandma is complaining.) And eventually Jody Rosen asked the question we all knew was coming:

“Adam Levine, Sexiest Man Alive: Good For the Jews?” Go, @tabletmag

— Jody Rosen (@jodyrosen) November 20, 2013

Well, in order to answer that, first things first: Maybe (pretty please!) Adam Levine isn’t even Jewish? No dice, alas. By his Wikipedia entry, his father is Jewish; Levine’s maternal grandfather was also Jewish, and Levine considers himself Jewish—though, according to The Jewish Chronicle, who interviewed him, he “rejected formal religious practice for a more generalized, spiritual way of life.” He chose not to have a bar mitzvah as a child, explaining: “I felt as though a lot of kids were trying to cash in.” Of course, he also later said: “I’m always quoting the part in Jerry Maguire when Cuba Gooding talks about the ‘kwan’: ‘love, respect, community, and the dollars, too.’ I love that shit. Nobody has it all, but for me to even come close is amazing.” (This person quotes Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry Maguire. Excuse me while I try to hold on to my underwear. Not because of the sexy times. Because they are literally attempting to crawl up my body and strangle me.)

Anyway, good try, but there did seem to be something too familiar about him.

And that’s when it hits you: Adam Levine is the hottest guy at Jewish summer camp, who doesn’t realize that title is extremelyrelative. He won’t kiss you on the mouth because he’s super in love with his blonde girlfriend Kristin back home, and that would be cheating, but he will deign to push your head down toward his crotch at final bonfire while telling you how smart he thinks you are, although what he’s really telling you is how smart he is for recognizing your smartness, and because all a really smart girl needs is Adam Levine to explain to her how smart she is, and how you’d like to say: “If I’m so smart, then why the hell am I doing this?” Afterward he’ll do a lot more idiot philosophizing in which you, smart girl, are tacitly not invited to participate, because while you’re obviously a genius who has read all kind of books, a fact he will acknowledge with a faux-impressed smirk, your hopes and dreams are not nearly as important or fascinating as his will certainly be to you.

And because you’re not invited to speak, you just listen, and remember how all the other girls are going to be quietly jealous when they hear about this, and honestly (he’s just being honest! Let’s face it!) it’s for the best, because if you really started talking back, you might question why someone who thinks he’s so sexual and sensual and special and other adjectives of squirmy sibilance has to keep telling you so—surely, a truly sexy person wouldn’t go on and on and on about having “moves like Jagger,” he would simply move like Jagger, possibly because he is, in fact, Mick Jagger.

You’d feel bad about it, in the end. You’d wonder what would have happened if instead of jumping on Adam Levine the minute he snapped his fingers, thus feeding the overwhelming sense of entitlement that will haunt him all his life, that will one day cause him to brag to Howard Stern about his “foolproof birth-control system” (otherwise known as the pull-out method, I’ll let you make your own ironic joke here) and muse that “lingerie is beautiful and amazing” (Amazing? It’s underpants! Although I can imagine him being mesmerized by the aerodynamic engineering of the average bra, considering his observation that he hates flying “because nobody really knows how planes work”—pause to appreciate the profundity), “but you only enjoy lingerie once it’s off, so let’s just cut to the chase,” you’d spent the evening quoting Monty Python sketches with that actually funny, actually smart, just a little too chubby (but who isn’t?) boy you’d been talking to and having genuine fun with all weekend long.

He’ll never talk to you again, because of Adam Levine. He’s going to be angry at women for years, because of Adam Levine. But you’ll forget about it. You’ll forget about both of them.

Until one day, in the not-so-distant future, you’ll be standing in line at the grocery store or waiting in the dentist’s office to have the first stage of the root canal you’d been putting off because it seems like the kid’s tuition is always due at exactly the same time the tooth starts bothering you again, and you’ll pick up a copy of People with Adam Levine—that Adam Levine, out of the thousands of Adam Levines in the world!—on the cover: 2013’s Sexiest Man Alive. And you’ll be back in that woods, feeling terrible about yourself in that partially unzipped sleeping bag, wishing he would stop touching that part of our stomach that you hate, listening to him go on and on about his band and the tattoo he’s going to get and how his favorite book is The Fountainhead, although he didn’t finish it because reading gives him a headache and life’s too short. And you’ll ask yourself the question you’ve been asking yourself in one fashion or another for the past 15 years: What the hell was the matter with Seth Rogen?

And so, to summarize: We return to the vital lesson of the 20th century—that Jews are no different from other people. Adam Levine is as good for us as he is for everyone else. Which is to say: not good at all.


Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Tablet Magazine’s new content in your inbox each morning

Rachel Shukert, a Tablet Magazine columnist on pop culture, is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great. Starstruck, the first in a series of three novels, is new from Random House. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.