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The Reason for Zelensky’s Surprise Grammys Appearance



President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks on screen at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
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Addressing a room of sparkly bodices and artfully oversize jackets at the Grammy Awards, the president of Ukraine had a simple reminder to give. “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a surprise, pretaped message that aired during last night’s ceremony.

His speech was full of striking turns of phrase, but the tuxedo line stood out most—for feeling like a jab against, or at least a challenge to, the very celebrities and culture he was also asking for assistance from.

But when a dictator is bombing a nation on the other side of the world, can the rhetoric of millionaire celebrities accomplish anything other than changing the subject to themselves? The Grammys moment answered that question affirmatively, and chillingly.

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