Men cheating in the public eye

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Many famous and successful women have been cheated on throughout pop culture history. Princess Diana, Beyoncé, and even Kourtney Kardashian have all had to suffer through the public humiliation of having their significant others cheat on them. While this catches the eye of the public, everyone eventually moves onto a different “hot topic” of the week. In this past month, however, there seems to be an epidemic of celebrity men cheating on their wives such as pop star Adam Levine and comedy actor Ned Fulmer who have both been caught having an affair with another woman, and the internet’s reaction was astonishing.

Levine is best known for being the lead vocalist and guitarist of the pop rock band Maroon 5 and being a host on TV singing reality show, “The Voice.” It’s safe to say that almost everyone had a Maroon 5 phase in 2017, so the nation was heartbroken to discover he had been having an affair with Instagram model Summer Stroh. Levine’s wife, Behati Prinsloo, is a Victoria’s Secret model and the couple has two children with another on the way. While everyone was shocked by the news, the public was even more shocked by Levine’s flirting methods, or lack thereof.

Summer Stroh, an Instagram "influencer," released a TikTok where she publicized images of her direct messages with Levine, and the internet went crazy over their exchange. Levine is quoted to have said things as abhorrent as “I may need to see the booty,” which has been pasted over countless memes and is circulating the internet. Stroh was also sufficiently clowned for her video as she said, “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 naïve … I was very easily manipulated.” TikTok users did not like this, as her narrative depicted herself as the victim in the situation and she later elaborated by saying, “I fully realize I’m not the victim in this. I’m not the one who’s really getting hurt here. It’s Behati and her children, and for that, I’m so, so sorry.”

Levine also took to his Instagram story on Sept. 20 and denied the allegations saying, “I used poor judgment in speaking with anyone other than my wife in ANY kind of flirtatious manner. 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.” Two more women have come forward with more allegations of Levine cheating; however, he was seen with his wife at one of his concerts recently, and was spotted picking up their kids from school. So, while we can hope that this scandal caused some sort of reckoning for Levine, the larger consequence was his lack of suave when it comes to flirting, and his direct messages can still be found all over the internet.

A more shocking case of cheating recently concerns Ned Fulmer who is a member of the "Try Guys." The Try Guys is an American online entertainment group and media production company which produces content for their YouTube channel. The show was originally started by BuzzFeed and featured four men who would partake in entertaining activities such as “Trying on Women’s Underwear.” In 2018 the four separated from BuzzFeed and the Try Guys became its own independent company. The four are very successful on YouTube and many feel like they have grown up watching the Try Guys, so the public was horrified to find out that one of the members, Ned Fulmer, was having an affair with a producer for the show.

Fulmer was exposed by a picture of him kissing one of the producers, which was leaked on Reddit. The internet went wild, mourning what they thought were genuine people making genuine videos. All four had very distinct personalities, and Fulmer had made being a family man his whole brand — usually doting on his wife and kids — making their content seem superficial and fake. In response, the other three members made a video titled “what happened.” The remaining three members explained that this was as much of a shock to them as it was to the public, as they were in the dark about the affair and Fulmer had been one of their best friends. The issue was not so much that he had cheated on his wife, but that he was having relations with someone who was under his direct supervision.

For this reason, Fulmer was laid off, but the producer will remain employed, they explained, as he was the one in the position of power. It remains unclear as to whether or not she will decide to stay with the company. The remaining Try Guys also made it clear that they hope the public will not skew the narrative and ensure that blame is not wholly placed on the producer, Alex, because “the internet has a tendency to be a lot harsher towards women than men, so please, we ask that you exercise kindness.” Ned and his wife Ariel have come forward and been seen in public together, both of them saying they would appreciate privacy for the sake of their children and that they are trying to work things out in their marriage.

The public’s reaction to the Try Guys’ video was wildly positive with tweets such as, “I truly love the way they have addressed this. Between Keith looking disappointed Zach almost crying and just how upset and angry Eugene is, it really shows just how deeply they love what they do and how upset they are over this whole situation. I hope the try guys push through.” Others also saying, “you can tell right away how deeply affected eugene, zach and keith are just watching the video they've uploaded minutes ago... i'm angry and sad because it's also THEIRS life's work what ned is putting at risk with his bullshit. everything is really fucked up.”

As lovely as the video was, I also feel that it was a little bit of a publicity stunt. While I’m sure they were upset to hear about the actions of their friend, the public seems to forget that they run a business and when Ned ruptured the integrity of their brand, they had to do damage control. The media is acting as if the three have suffered through a tremendous trauma, but the truth of the matter is that they had to make this video to protect their brand from getting defamed.

Overall, I think the cheating scandals that we have witnessed in the past few weeks have been particularly demonstrative of the interaction between the public and public figures. There has been a large disparity between how the public has reacted to both cases largely due, in my opinion, to the roles both men had. People were angry on behalf of Adam Levine’s wife, but the focus seemed to be more on the fact that he had no flirting game. People were also hasty to jump on Summer Stroh when in reality most of the blame should be put on Levine as he was the one who was cheating on his wife. The reaction to Ned Fulmer’s story was a more personal one. Fans felt personally betrayed by his act and were also very quick to slander the producer.

Cheating scandals will come and go but we have had our fair share of drama in these past few weeks. The media's reactions to both of these situations were vastly different but nonetheless attention-grabbing. This does make me wonder, if Twitter existed in Princess Diana’s time, what kind of public shaming would King Charles III have to face?