In a truly petulant move, some Russians are shaving their beards to protest Conchita Wurst’s win at the Eurovision song contest on Sunday. See, Wurst is a drag queen, and she has a beard, so by shaving their beards, these Russians are signaling that they don’t approve of drag queens! This is political courage at its highest.
The impact of the campaign, however, is somewhat undercut by the fact that Wurst’s song, “Rise Like A Phoenix” is currently number one in the Russian iTunes charts. Hmmm! How peculiar!
Some of the men partaking in this protest have been posting pre- and post-shave pictures of themselves, lest anybody doubt their commitment to hating gender non-conformity. And it's not restricted to no-names, either: High-profile participants include broadcaster Andrei Malakhov and rapper Alexander Stepanov, the latter of whom punctuated his feelings with a middle finger to the camera. The protest also birthed a variety of other anti-beard memes, and at least one person managed to tie the whole thing into the Ukrainian crisis (see below).
None of this is terribly surprising. When Wurst was selected as Austria’s representative, no less than 15,000 Russians signed a petition decrying her inclusion. Lawmakers in the country joined in on the hate, with nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky hysterically referring to it as “the end of Europe” (a prediction proven false, of course, by the continued existence of Europe after Wurst's victory).
Alas, it was all for naught: Wurst won the contest handily, while Russia’s representatives came in seventh place and were repeatedly booed when they came on stage.
(That's former Ukrainian leader Yulia Tymoshenko with a beard photoshopped onto her face.)
So, to recap: Conchita Wurst wins an international singing contest, some Russians shave their beards in protest...and then a bunch more Russians start buying Wurst's music in droves. Gotcha.