In Russia, a considerable number of people make a living as video bloggers. Among the many Russian vloggers, a topic frequently asked by foreigners is how they view the gangster phenomenon in their society.
This kind of urban gangster called “Gopnik” has always presented a typical image of unemployed young people in Eastern Europe in Western public opinion: wearing a fake Adidas sports suit, shaved head, squatting in the corner with cheap beer, with his companions They were bored looking at the sky and making divinations.
Weird Robbery Rules
”Gopnik” is a Russian slang derogatory term used to describe young white male members of the Russian underclass. In the eyes of ordinary people, they have a unique style of dress (usually sportswear) and hairstyle. These gangsters do not have any legitimate occupations. Although they are not gangsters of Jiangyang and their lethality is extremely limited, they also commit minor crimes such as brawls on the streets. Smoking, drinking and beating up people of color contributed to their bad reputation.
Their presence in the streets of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine has become a major feature of the streets of Eastern Europe after the Cold War. Their numbers peaked in the 1990s during a period of “shock therapy” for the Russian economy. However, the cultural history of these hooligans is much longer, dating back to the Tsarist period.
Nowadays, most of the gangsters are in the dark corners of big cities, doing petty theft or sneaking up on passers-by in the middle of the night. But their robbery is very “peculiar”.
They will block a single passerby in groups of three or five, and then talk to the passerby. If passers-by continue to chat with them without saying a word, they may rob passers-by of their belongings. But if passers-by’s attitude is firm that they have something to do and need to leave, the gangsters won’t bother anymore.
On Russian social media, an article said that some punks would reach out to passersby and ask them to shake hands. If the other party shook hands, these little gangsters would swarm up and snatch the other party’s belongings. In the world of gangsters, it is “immoral” to attack passers-by who have never shaken hands with them. If you want to rob, you should rob those who have shaken hands with you.
How to identify small gangsters?
Walking on the streets of large and small cities in Russia, how to identify the gangsters hiding around?
In fact, they have a unique set of appearance and body language. A standard Eastern European gangster portrait should look like this:
he likes to wear fake Adidas tracksuits, the logo is often misspelled; he wears a newsboy cap and pointy shoes; he likes to smoke cheap cigarettes and holds a A cheap bottle of beer or vodka; his preferred position is to squat in a park or street corner with a bottle in one hand and a melon seed in his mouth, spitting out the shells all over the place.
After the popularity of the Internet, netizens inside and outside Russia began to watch these gangsters. There are also serious netizens who wrote the “six myths” of Eastern European gangsters:
First, why can they endure long squatting positions? Second, why do they like to eat melon seeds so much? Third, why are their teeth so powerful that they can bite open all beer bottle caps? Fourth, why are they so hardy, in such cold weather in Russia, you can squat in the street for hours in an Adidas tracksuit? Fifth, why do they like to tuck the ends of their jackets into their pants so much? Sixth, why do gangsters like to smoke more than two cigarettes at the same time?
One of the most discussed topics among the gangsters is the squat endurance of the gangster. Netizens even invented a “Slavic squat” to describe the squatting phenomenon of these little gangsters.
”Slavic squat” was basically born in Soviet prisons. During non-labor time, criminals were forced to squat (sitting on the ground was considered indecent) because they had nowhere to sit and relax. Eventually, being able to squat for long periods of time without numbness in the legs became a defining characteristic of criminals. To be cool, young punks have also learned to do this in order to look like they have a “quack background”. Eastern European punks squatted on park benches, on the steps of the back door of their apartments, and in dark, unseen corners of the night.
As for the melon seeds in their hands, they are actually sunflower seeds. After all, Russia is the second largest producer of sunflower seeds in the world, second only to Ukraine in annual production.
So, what’s the matter with punks who like Adidas clothes?
The Russian obsession with Adidas stemmed from the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The sportswear of the Soviet team was produced by the German company Adidas. However, the Soviet Union banned sportswear from being labeled Adidas. Although the company name did not appear on the clothing, Adidas’ sneakers and sportswear were hugely popular in the Soviet Union. At that time, there was even such a proverb: “Whoever wears Adidas today will betray his country tomorrow.”
In the 1990s, the Russian mafia recruited many retired wrestlers and weightlifters as thugs. These people like to show off by walking around in a tracksuit. The punks admired these retired athletes who showed off their power everywhere, and they also imitated this set of sportswear.
become a subculture
In the last decade, the typical image of a gangster has begun to fade, and young people are not interested in these idle lives. However, under the hype of Westerners, the image of Russian gangsters has endured on the Internet.
On social media, Westerners use various punks to make emoticons, and since then punks have become one of the labels that Russia cannot get rid of on the Internet.
Today, the ecstatic squatting posture of Eastern European gangsters has become an interesting online cultural symbol. Many Russian video bloggers also have a self-deprecating mentality, and package those gangsters who were disgusting and disgusting in the past into a unique Eastern European street subculture.
These social media celebrities not only do not think that “Slavic squat” is a negative criminal symbol, but promote it as a unique Russian urban youth culture. Even some Russian bloggers who specialize in taking selfies in dangerous places deliberately squat in some deadly places to pay tribute to the gangster subculture.
In fact, this is somewhat similar to how young British people packaged football hooligans and street youth culture into British youth subcultures.