Media Review – “Payphone”

“An Enjoyable, Mini-action Movie?” ENJOYABLE FOR WHOM??


Maroon 5

“Payphone” from Overexposed

The last time I used a payphone was in Europe, because I didn’t particularly want to deal with international charges on a cell phone. I’ve never seen a working U.S. payphone booth actually in use. But out of all the things wrong with this video, that is a downright trivial detail. First of all, who thought it was a good idea to overlay the sound effects onto the music track? It’s percussive and distracting. Not that I’m sure I really want to hear Levine’s voice whining, “fairy tales are full of shit/one more fucking love song I’ll be sick.”

If this video is his idea of a fairy tale, imagination really is dead. The cliches are never-ending. I was particularly entertained by the transformation of the nameless “office girl” from uptight working girl to desparate, fleeing criminal. This begins at 1:28, where Levine’s character signs to her to take off her high heels. Now barefoot, she is dragged through the masses of her hiding co-workers by Levine, who’s toting a gun. Like this:

Couldn’t be more generic, right? Also, we don’t even get her face. Just the heroic man. I’ll get to him in a second. After losing her heels, being shot at, running down sidewalks barefoot, our girl also loses her updo. Well, heck. She was too uptight anyway! She looks MUCH more attractive like this:

Yep, he’ll definitely notice her now. Running for your life together is remarkably akin to a roll in hay. Sweat, adrenaline, disheveled clothes, the whole shebang. And naturally this happens:

(It’s okay, he has glasses and a business suit!  He’s not really a threat.) But then, instead of a kiss, Levine just lets go of her and bolts. Supposedly trying to draw the chase away from her. How noble. Except for the part where it’s his fault to begin with!

At 2:30, barely halfway into the video, the girl’s part is over. Fin. The rest of the film is just (another!) generic police car chase, complete with inappropriate balls of flame and impossible car escapes. The girl was just a catalyst to turn Mr. Meek Levine into an action hero, of course.

And what’s going on with men’s roles? Well, we have a screamingly-obvious dialogue between the Male Protector vs. the Male Aggressor. The obvious aggressors are the robbers at the beginning, whose violence threaten the girl. Levine takes the gun to protect her and himself. However, the police mistake him for an aggressor, which forces him to become aggressive, apparently. Instead of turning himself in and explaining the situation, he chooses to steal a car.  Because clearly there is no better way to handle it.

Maroon 5 could do well to look at some fairy tale literature–then at least they might think of something better than a regurgitated adolescent outlaw fantasy. And by the way, Levine, women are not props for your action hero dreams. We don’t owe you something for “saving us” from a predicament you created. As far as we’re concerned, this looks like an ego-stroking exercise in pointlessness.

Don’t call us anymore.

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