Don’t pretend you don’t care about Justin Trudeau’s new beard
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a beard and a lot of people want you to know that they don't care. They don't care about our leader's seeming attempt to rebrand from blackface guy to bearded guy because, they say, there are more important things happening in the world.
This week Adam Scotti, the prime minister's official photographer, posted a photo of Trudeau to Instagram in which the PM appears deep in thought, holding his interlaced hands up to his mouth; a mouth newly framed by a salt-and-pepper beard.
Media was quick to pick up on Scotti's photo. Global News posed the question: "What do you think of Trudeau's new beard?" Reuters ran the headline: "Canada's Trudeau makes waves online with new beard." And Sarah Berman at Vice published an entertaining, comprehensive piece about why Trudeau might have chosen to grow out his facial hair. Is it because he's just returned from a vacation in Costa Rica where he may have "opted out of a few morning shaves?" Or, Berman wonders, is it the sign of a possibly "changed man," a PM longing to be taken seriously?
We don't know. What we do know is that some people are really peeved that journalists are asking these questions in the first place.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner expressed her displeasure on Twitter this week, calling out Global News and mainstream media more generally for pushing the beard narrative, when serious events are unfolding overseas.
Sen. Denise Batters of Saskatchewan was no less vexed. "After a 17 day holiday, it is telling that the only news coming out of Prime Minister Trudeau's first day of work is a beard," she tweeted Monday. Even Ed the Sock, not usually on the same page as Conservatives, chimed in to chide the media.
"Trudeau grew a beard," he tweeted on Tuesday. "This dominates headlines. Dear newsmedia: THERE ARE REAL STORIES OUT THERE THAT AFFECT PEOPLE'S LIVES — FIND ONE AND WRITE ABOUT IT! *THAT'S* YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, NOT REPORTING ON FACIAL HAIR!"
It's strange: you'd think if anyone understood the value of adding a bit of levity to the news cycle, it would be a broadcaster who works as a sock puppet. But these are strange times. And this is Canada: a country that's always been square when it comes to injecting politics with a dose of superficial fun. Remember when Justin Trudeau posed for Vogue in 2015? You'd think he had stolen an election Canadians were so outraged.
Americans, on the other hand, have no issue discussing their leaders' hairdos, whether those do's belong to Republicans or Democrats. Long before he took office, U.S. President Donald's Trump's unruly coif had a mind and a news cycle of its own.
So did Barack Obama's. During his presidency, Obama's greying hair was a frequent topic in the press. In 2009, The New York Times ran a piece called "Stress already taking toll on Obama — just ask his barber."