The Zelensky pair's Vogue glamour shots from hell

Is there anyone out there who's not disgusted, utterly disgusted, with the chic Vogue fashion-glamour shots of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife from the rubble and war rooms of Ukraine?

Vogue's hagiographic cover story is about what you'd expect from an organ that once placed a gushing glamour-profile of the Syrian dictator's wife on its cover.

It begins with this gushery:

There is no script for first ladies in wartime, and so Olena Zelenska is writing her own. The wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a longtime comedy writer, always preferred to stay behind the scenes, while her husband, a comedian turned politician whose presidency may yet determine the fate of the free world, glowed in the limelight. But ever since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Zelenska has suddenly found herself center stage in a tragedy. When I met her on a recent rainy afternoon in Kyiv, where cafés were busy even amid frequent air-raid sirens, her luminous face and green-brown eyes seemed to capture the range of emotions coursing through Ukraine today: deep sadness, flashes of dark humor, recollections of a safer, happier past, and a steely core of national pride.

"These have been the most horrible months of my life, and the lives of every Ukrainian," she said, speaking her country's language through a translator. "Frankly I don't think anyone is aware of how we have managed emotionally." What inspires her, she told me, is her fellow Ukrainians. "We're looking forward to victory. We have no doubt we will prevail. And this is what keeps us going."

Gag, gag, gag.  Just that first sentence made me want to barf.  Someone that posed and gussied up in the tricks of the glamour trade, insouciantly tousled, with zero dirt or wrinkles, utterly fashion-forward, sure sounds credible on that claim of endless misery.

We have seen pictures of Ukrainian misery, of these things is not like the other. 

Even foreign policy establishmentarian guru Ian Bremmer is queasy:

For some, it was so bad that it was as if the Russians had put it out:

It's a good guess that over in Moscow, someone is getting scolded, or maybe packed off to the Gulag, for not thinking it up first.

That's because any normal response to these glamour shots is very damaging to battered Ukraine's cause.

Ukraine is supposedly to be a beleaguered nation at war.  It's a nation we care about, a nation whose flag we wave.  It has lost 12,000 citizens to Russia's brutal invasion.  Many of its cities lie in rubble, and there are continuous horror stories about rapes, robberies, lootings, and random callous killings.  More than that, it most certainly has not won that war, either, and Russia, which has little regard for the suffering of its own citizens sent to fight and pay, may well do that in the end, given its tenacity.

We all know that the Zelenskys are actors, and early on in the war, they used the knowledge of theatre and public relations to extremely good effect, given that their nation had never prepared much for war and it suddenly found itself all alone fighting the Russians.  With a situation like that, having an actorly president who could convey the grit and determination of the Ukrainians, as well as rally the people, was a masterful stroke of good luck.

It also stood in stark contrast to the Russian failure at public relations, with the aging, unsmiling, clearly health-challenged Vladimir Putin sitting at his long, long, long table in gilded rooms, afraid to allow even his closest generals near him. 

Putin was aged and isolated and evil.  Zelensky was youth and hope and courage.

The problem now is that the act is old.

Things have changed.  Arms are flowing in from Europe and the U.S. in huge amounts now.  There is constant talk of rebuilding as if the war has been won already.  Some $54 billion has been allocated by U.S. Congress to hand over to Ukraine for various purposes — pensions for bureaucrats, infrastructure rebuilding, weapons, housing, and more — with no oversight or accountability, which is a credibility-killer of Ukraine, as it leaves much of the U.S. public skeptical.  Joe Biden's corruption is another tangential issue — is Biden handing over that cash to keep Ukraine quiet about what it knows about Hunter Biden's corrupt business dealings?  Be nice to know the answer to that one.  Meanwhile, Russia is in no paradise for its stubborn invasion.  It's now being pressured by its allies, such as Kazakhstan, and to some extent, China, to get the hell out.

The fact that a lot of money has rolled in, that Ukaine is corrupt to start with, and the war has yet to be won, serves to make this Vogue photo shoot a snake-eyes roll of the dice for the idea of stoking any sympathy for Ukraine.  They have the cash.  Where is the victory?  Tell us about all the time you have for this photo shoot with all its fakey-fake goo-goo eye embraces and those straddling macho legs on the first lady sitting down to show determination?  They haven't aren't they supposed to be a bit more serious than to take on a Vogue glamour photo shoot?  We thought this war was real.

We already saw the act tatter a bit when Hollywood celebrities, and aging rock king Bono, turned up in Kiev to take in the rubble scenery and look "concerned."  We've seen the political pilgrimages from House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Jill Biden, Boris Johnson.  We've already begun to feel the cringe when Zelensky addressed the Emmy awards. This Vogue photo shoot — which is all about desire, fashion, glamour, status — is simply the apex of this ongoing bad judgment, which, as one member of the Twitterati noted, was a failure to read the room.

Incredibly, there were a few defenders, and none could read the room any more than the Zelenskys could.  Here is one:

What do the Vogue photos convey? Strength, defiance, self-confidence. That’s the message for the Ukrainian people, for the West and … for the Kremlin. Ukraine and the Zelenskys are not going away. Maybe that’s why some people hate the photos

— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) July 28, 2022

Here is someone who could:

It seems that Zelensky is comfortable now, and happy to turn Ukraine's war rooms into theatrical sets for photo shoots from the world's most glitzy, buzzy, chi-chi professional photographers now, for the descamisados to eat up before flipping the page to another article about must-have purses when you're in your thirties.

It stinks from two points of view: one, that Zelensky is mighty comfortable with his millions these days, enough to swan around for glamour shots to be gushed at by the beautiful people as well as gullible women, and two, that he's still asking the West to cough up more cash, weapons, resources, and more to aid his country, and asking Ukrainians themselves to "keep fighting until you die."  Who the hell would want to die for those kinds of wealthy out-of-touch elites?

There were dim views all around:

All in all, the act is appalling.  Vogue, of course, is revolting in its editorial decisions, but this photo shoot mainly highlights the need for more scrutiny on the Zelensky pair.  The mask is off, and their act has gotten very, very old.

Image: Twitter screen shot.

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