The Weeknd's bruised and bloodied face was the ultimate accessory for Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, sparking confusion and speculation from people tuning in from home to see him take home the award for Best R&B Video and Video of the Year for "Blinding Lights." For those who were concerned, rest assured that the apparent injuries to the singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, are all makeup — and it's far from the first time he's sported the gory look.
The Weeknd embraced a similar aesthetic in the short film After Hours, which has the same name as his most recent album, on Saturday Night Live in March, and in the music video for "Blinding Lights," which took home the VMAs Sunday. In the video, Weeknd plays a red-jacketed character who goes through a seriously tough night in Las Vegas when a night of partying and gambling turns dark after he's beaten up in a fight and possibly commits murder while possessed by an evil spirit. That didn't stop people from questioning his appearance during Sunday's show.
What’s the weeknd’s deal with always looking like he just got a bowling ball to the face— Peter Warren🕺On That Jive Since '75 (@peterwarren) August 31, 2020
Man what happened to The Weeknd face?— Ianthia Ferguson (@iamianthia) August 31, 2020
Others were sick of the questioning, pointing out the artist's repeated use of the aesthetic during his artistic period. To Variety in April, The Weeknd explained that his song "Faith" is also about a dark and violent time in Las Vegas when he first got famous in 2015, which culminated in him punching a police officer, to which he pleaded no contest.
"Why does The Weeknd have scars on his face" BRO DO YOU EVEN KNOW AFTER HOURS? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE PAST MONTHS?— NXOCTURNAL (@heartlessmind) August 31, 2020
"I was getting really, really tossed up and going through a lot of personal stuff. I got arrested in Vegas [for punching a police officer; he later pleaded no contest]. It was a real rock-star era, which I’m not really proud of. You hear sirens at the end the song — that’s me in the back of the cop car, that moment," he told the magazine. "I always wanted to make that song but I never did, and this album felt like the perfect time, because [the character] is looking for an escape after a heartbreak or whatever. I wanted to be that guy again — the 'Heartless' guy who hates God and is losing his f—ing religion and hating what he looks like in the mirror so he keeps getting high. That’s who this song is."