Why These Russians Have Cats on their Heads, and Other Memes Explained

On the other side of the world, an entirely different internet is taking place: Russian internet. Today, Natalie Shure takes us on a tour of the past week or so on the Russian web, from VKontakte to LiveJournal, from lighthearted animal exploitation to jaw exercises set to rap.

The Cat Is the Hat

Ever wonder what the story is on those furry Russian hats? This week, users of the popular website Pikabu unveiled a trade secret and pulled some cat pranks.

Why These Russians Have Cats on their Heads, and Other Memes Explained

The fuzzy cylindrical cap, called a ushanka, is a logical choice in one of the world's coldest inhabited countries. Its visibility really spiked when someone slapped some practical ear flaps on it, and sent it marching into battle as part of the White Army uniform in 1918. (Quick brush-up: the 1917 Russian Revolution ushered in years of civil war between the pro-socialist Reds and the tsarist Whites.) The ushanka's association with the losing side proved to be bad branding, and the hats didn't make a comeback until the 1939 Winter War against Finland. Because, hey, it was cold! And the Soviet Army missed the way that ushanka fur sticks to your earwax.

Since then, the hats are such an iconic Russian stereotype that Gerald Ford wore one to pay a diplomatic visit to Brezhnev in 1974. Too bad he didn't save taxpayer dollars with the DIY version below:

Why These Russians Have Cats on their Heads, and Other Memes Explained

Why These Russians Have Cats on their Heads, and Other Memes Explained

Another Cat in an Unusual Situation

Liza is into some weird shit.


A Bird in an Even More Unusual Situation

This is flying high on Coub, a Vine rip-off with ten-second loops instead of six. (The embrace of extraneous length has a proud tradition in the Russian Arts.)

I'm at an utter loss to add anything. But I'm fairly mesmerized.

…and here's a bonus Soub of a Russian tyke remaking that viral Volvo split commercial:

"In Youth, My Friend's Grandmother Looked Like John Travolta"

Why These Russians Have Cats on their Heads, and Other Memes Explained

Holy shit.