‘Slav Squat’ Meme, Explained: Why Do Russians Love Adidas So Much?

probably without you noticing it, you ’ ve acquired this pigeonhole of a new russian man. He favors Adidas tracksuits, carrier hats and pointed leather shoes. He smokes cheap cigarettes and drinks cheap beer or vodka. Between his expression and his encompassing, you associate him with poverty and its attendant crime. But if you know one thing about him, you know this : He is about constantly crouched in a “ Slav squat. ”

Over closely a decade, the Slav squat has become ingrained as an internet meme, partially on the potency of the doubt it poses : namely, “ Why do Slavs squat ? ” But the bigger mystery, it turns out, is how we received the theme that they do. In a newfangled sequence of their fantastic podcast covering U.S.-Russia relations, She’s in Russia, best friends Smith Freeman and Olivia Capozzalo go deeper than anyone has so far to describe how the western world came to be fascinated by this original of a lower-class loiterer, the alleged gopnik.

What I was most surprised to learn ( and this speaks to the assumptions that come with a life spent on the american internet ) is that these guys weren ’ triiodothyronine precisely trying to build a reputation for an international audience. somewhere in the back of my take care, I figured any “ squat Slav ” would upload these photos to social media himself — that this was the prototype he wanted to project, an idealize pose .

In fact, Freeman and Capozzalo explain, “ gopnik ” originated as a derogative term — not unlike “ dawdler trash ” in the states — and it wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate until recently that some gopniks, or gopniki, embraced this identity with the mix of pride and irony we expect from an internet-codified subculture .
It was Slavic meme creators who saw the content-potential in this group, and before viral fame, few gopniki would have seen themselves as affecting a manner, per southeast, entirely living normally. Their prototype, as we know it, is largely informed by early Slavs mimicking them. This is an aesthetic, then, controlled, and in a sense, projected onto a people by outsiders : It ’ s an undertake to make feel of dudes whose sociable roots go back a century, and whose development is tied up in the fantastic Soviet narrative. But I ’ ll let the actual Russia experts unpack that stuff for you here :
Because the gopnik phenomenon has such staying office, revealing so much in how jokes, prejudices and economic identifiers translate from one side of the globe to another, I wanted to ask a few more questions — particularly on matters Freeman and Capozzalo had time to alone briefly mention in the podcast. It ’ s a slippery and inexhaustible subject .
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Early in the podcast, we hear that the gopnik is one of the few images of a stereotypical Russian known outside of the country itself. How exactly do actual Russians — and not just the gopniki — feel about that?
Freeman: How Russians feel about the gopnik prototype is probably on a person-by-person basis. I ’ five hundred venture to guess that Russians, like Americans, would credibly want the most nuanced prototype of themselves as people to be portrayed to the ball-shaped audience. As in the often reductive and negative prototype of Russians as spies or hackers or intolerant or untrustworthy doesn ’ metric ton feel very effective ( or accurate for that matter ). needle to say, the gopnik image international relations and security network ’ t particularly nuanced. But it ’ s an image that has for the most separate been created and propagated by Slavs themselves. And if you read the discussion threads on things like Slav Squatting and knock-off Adidas tracksuits, you ’ ll find a fair sum of Slavic pride tied up in the dry image of the gopnik — despite gopnik being, at least originally, a derogative term .
Capozzalo: here are some responses I got from my russian friends [ she lives in St. Petersburg ] when asking them ( a ) what they think about the fact that the image of the gopnik ( as a meme ) has a distribute of popularity outside of the former USSR, and specifically in the West, and ( bacillus ) more precisely, what do you think about the fact that this is one of the most democratic stereotyped images of a russian person in western mass culture ?
Maksim: OMG. Is it ? I guess the problem lies in the 1990s, after the fall of Soviet Union. When Russia became open to the West. At the same time a set of criminals started to raise capital ( both legally and illegally ). With made money they started to travel without cognition of what the West actually was. So they brought that double to the West as Russians : gopnik with money .
Any stereotyped persona is the first impression that foreigners make about. And I ’ megabyte ashamed to be interpreted with that picture both consciously and unconsciously .
As a russian, I always have problems abroad. Because of our politics, government, stereotypes. I normally never say where I ’ thousand from. Thank god it ’ s hard to guess looking at me .
Nastya: Is it, though ? I can ’ triiodothyronine remember the last clock I saw a gopnik represented in a movie or something. I feel like [ an ] uneducated, crude but slightly curious dandy is a more much quality. Or is it a gopnik ? anyhow. It ’ s sad, though, that a dense irrelevant asshole represents Russians in mass [ culture ]. You know the movie Happiness ? There ’ s a storyline about a pedophile, but a russian gopnik is still the worst character !
I’m intrigued by how essential language was to a meme system we think of as visual — for example,“Slav squat” was an English term that wound up retranslated back into anglicized Russian. Do the languages usually cross-pollinate this way, or is this a weird exception?
Capozzalo: The authoritative thing to emphasize when we talk about linguistic process in the gopnik meme is the fact that the culture from which the meme rebel ( russian, soviet ) can refer to it and make memes from it with more magnetic declination, linguistically and visually ( they know what the original phenomenon is, so they can better meme it ). By “ linguistically, ” I good mean that Russian-speakers can ( and do ) make fun of gopniks in very life and on the internet by saying/writing actual phrases that are stereotypically attributed to very live gopniks ( e.g, “ падай на корты, ” or, roughly, “ pop a chunky ” ). Russians can do gopnik mannerisms, mimic vocal inflections, etc., to each other — they merely have more material to work with than person outside of the culture as a whole .
so when one finical aspect of the gopnik image ( the squat ) is focused on in the english-speaking internet, it ’ s done from an external position ( regardless of whether or not the person/people who coined the term “ slav squat ” and/or the people who use it are actually from a slavic/Russia/Soviet culture doesn ’ metric ton very count ; the term is naming the thing from the outdoor ). besides, precisely a side note : It makes smell to use english if you want something on the internet to reach the largest possible consultation. besides I want to note, if it wasn ’ thyroxine clear : russian-speaking people do not much use the steer translation of “ slav knee bend ( ing ) ” in russian, I precisely have seen it here and there, specifically as a translation of the English phrase .
In terms of language cross-pollination between Russian and English in general, I would say the directionality is overwhelmingly english → Russian. That is just given the imperial laterality of american pop polish and the english language more generally cosmopolitan. I know it ’ s not the same thing at all, but there are lots of examples of little english words or phrases that Russians use in everyday speech, like “ come on, ” “ truly ” and “ badly ” — all merely said in English, but pronounced with a russian stress, and merely flowing in language between russian words .
Freeman: The “ Slav squat ” meme and the broader internet culture of which it is a part is heavily Slavic ( and when I say Slavic, I mean people who consciously and explicitly refer to some kind of pan-Slavic polish, which includes people from a number of countries from the former USSR, who may or may not themselves be ethnically Slavic ), preferably than specifically russian ( even though gopnik is a russian bible ). It ’ randomness in the Slavic internet vs. the Runet [ the Russian-language internet ], meaning not everyone speaks the same language. For case, cultural Russians and Poles are both Slavic but speak different languages ( with a unlike alphabet ). This explains why the meme at least starts in English and credibly why the retranslation of “ Slav chunky ” is not actually all that democratic to use, even in the Runet .
I think, though, that it would be safe to assume that any meme that comes from the Slavic internet has some potential for language cross-pollination just because its creators and consumers are multilingual. And besides because there ’ s not in truth a hard line between Ru/Slavic/English internet. here ’ s an exemplar of a gopnik-related meme in Polish and English :

here is a democratic vogue of illustration about the Slavic countries in English and transliterated Russian, that, though clear to any english speaker, may not be comprehensible without a fair sum of sympathize of Slavic history. This tends to be the case across the circuit board with many of these memes.

I think this creates a cool effect, and I would speculate that it plays a role in the memes ’ popularity in the West. The memes feel authentically Slavic by requiring cognition to understand them, but because they are in English, they present an opportunity for the consumer to learn enough to decipher them. I think for english-speaking Westerners who like learning about russian and Slavic cultures, understanding these memes makes them feel good .
I think you see less lyric cross-pollination when you are dealing entirely with the English speaking internet or the Runet ( where memes will be predominantly in russian, like this ). Though you do see a fair amount of bowel movement of internet memes to the Runet, wherein Russian is superimposed on an picture macro first popular on the Internet ( like this guy ). I bet there are examples of internets that map to “ macro ” -ethnic groups, like Slavs, and I bet you would get like terminology cross-pollination there, I good don ’ t know any of them myself. person should tell us about, like, Southeast Asian internet culture .
You briefly addressed proper “Slav squat” form. Can you tell me the essential aspects of the pose? Are either of you especially good at it? Olivia mentioned she squats more than the Russians she knows—how did she get in the habit?
Freeman: Boris explains it best :
Capozzalo: It ’ s actually curious to try to badly answer this. You just squat. And yes, as Boris says, keeping your heels down is authoritative for the true Slav squat. I mean, I just in the first place would do it as a joke, pose that manner in a photograph, and in different circumstances it was potentially hip-hop-inspired and/or gopnik-inspired, but not with besides much think put into it. Russians got a kick out of it when I did it, and drew attention to the gopnik reference, namely verbally ( for example, saying gopnik phrases to me and trying to get me to repeat them while squatting, because it ’ second extra funny story for an american english to do it, lol ) .
identical occasionally I actually have squatted in populace for public toilet purposes. Like once I was waiting in a long occupation to board a plane, and they had us in this short in-between area where there were no seats. So preferably than sitting on the floor ( something I am decidedly not against, but I ’ ve found myself more antipathetic to since living in Russia, because it seems more discouraged here ), I fair squatted because I was tired of standing and it was comfortable. I think some of the Russians ( I was flying from Finland to Russia if I recall correctly ) in line were credibly smiling or smirking at me, but I avoided making eye reach with people because it was slightly embarrassing .
You didn’t get a chance to go into the women of the gopnik scene, but I’ve seen a fair amount of memes where women at least imitate the style. How do they figure into the equation? Is there a related stereotype of them? Is the squatting itself essentially masculine or not?
Capozzalo: I think it bears repeating that the majority of gopnik memes feature people mimicking gopniks, quite than actual straight up gopniks themselves, who are, as I ’ ve read, not a particularly self-referential, self-ironicizing subculture. Again, the give voice “ gopnik ” in Russian is derogative and generally people who might be called gopniks, particularly in the heydey of phenomenon in the ’ 90s, do not refer to themselves with that bible !
I, besides, have seen images of both men and women slav squatting in tracksuits on the internet, yes. But I get the smell that the actual groups of squatting people who drink ( drink ) beer and eat ( corrode ) sunflower seeds and are called gopniks by other people together are majority-masculine. It kind of reminds me of how in lots of cultures groups men gather around in cafe and other public spaces to play dominoes ( or something ), or equitable shoot the stool. I think squatting in particular is seen as unfeminine, and frankincense kind of crude/crass for a dame to do it ( again, if you ’ rhenium doing it badly, not ironically ) — like, that is what I imagine men who actually squat think of women squatting. I could be wrong though, I unfortunately do not know any real gopniks…
I get the sense that gopnitsa is the again derogative russian bible for a female person you think looks like they would date/hang out with a gopnik. Could be clothes, constitution, hair’s-breadth, but I doubt it would be the knee bend. But those are all fair ocular signals. Remember, gopnik is more a reference to a lifestyle/class overall .

Which is more key to the gopnik archetype, the squat or the tracksuit? Or is it the combination that locks the idea together? You mentioned athletics/workout culture as well as hip-hop influences, and it occurs to me that squatting has associations with both exercise. And then there’s the “rap squat,” too.
Freeman: The gopnik original on-line is decidedly a combination of the Adidas tracksuit and the knee bend. Or at least some imprint of “ gopnik ” dress ( i.e., leather jacket, bland cap, leather — possibly pointy — shoes, etc. ) combined with the knee bend, and other things, like light beer, sunflower seeds and this good ol ’ dance :
Capozzalo: In real liveliness, it ’ randomness a lot less rigid, and the squat is decidedly not key to determining whether or not person can be called a gopnik. I ’ d say it ’ s a combination of dress/overall ocular aesthetic, address, mannerisms and behavior ( recall, a russian person might refer to the ridicule that mugged them as a gopnik ) .
Freeman: About the “ blame jack ” : It decidedly has aesthetic overlap with the Slav squat — though the heels aren ’ t down in the rap knee bend, it ’ sulfur more of a pose than a perch position. It ’ s actually funny because the “ blame knee bend ” is besides sometimes referred to as the prison squat. People often speculate the origin of the “ Slav squat ” is prison adenine well ( you don ’ thyroxine want to sit down in prison because the floor is dirty — Russians hate dirty floors — and the chunky allows you to stay comfortable ). I personally think the wholly rap/slav-squat-came-out-of-prison matter might be a lode of bullshit, just because people have been squatting literally since the click of time. little kid Slav-squat naturally .
Capozzalo: But there are still certain groups of people that squat more than others. And the prison-squatting theory, at least for gopniks, goes along with the general notion of gopniks ’ proximity to organized crime/prison culture in an denotative way. And of course the rap chunky did not inspire the Slav jack or frailty versa. besides ! One key dispute between those two squats that I kind of referenced in describing my own squat habits — the rap jack is static, it is a present you do momentarily, you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate spend time in it. The “ Slav squat, ” at least in actual gopnik culture, is a sitting position that you can spend clock in. different things .

You said the gopnik lifestyle overlaps with different groups and is more amorphous than westerners realize — but do they share anything of a political mood?
Capozzalo: If thus, then in a non-explicit way ( meaning they don ’ thymine likely think of themselves as a group that has core shared values, the way early marginalized groups might ). I would describe the overall political position in its origins as being arbiters of what is convention or satisfactory socially, upholding a moral standard and condition quo ( in most cases a Westerner would interpret how this actually plays out as bigotry or intolerance ). But then it besides seems to involve a lot of not giving a sleep together and equitable getting by however, aka, fiddling crime vs. being a dear, hard-working citizen, etc .
Lastly, on the topic of people adopting this aesthetic, which, as you said, could catch on in the west: Who’s doing this right now, or where is the appropriation happening? And will the squat remain as important as the fashion, or could Americans just absorb the tracksuit thing into their athleisure trend?
Capozzalo: To the doubt of jack vs. fashion, fashion decidedly is more visible and democratic and will likely remain or even gain popularity outside the former U.S.S.R. ( and not lone in the West ) .
I think more broadly that Americans or by and large non-Russian/former soviet people are much drawn to the clothes of person like Gosha Rubchinskiy ( other than for strictly aesthetic reasons, if those flush exist ) because they stylize, curate and exoticize a finical other culture. To me, gopnik-inspired fashion is kind of a glamorization of an think of poor post-Soviet urban landscapes. People likely don ’ triiodothyronine know precisely what it is they are romanticizing, of course, but it can even work on a subliminal level .
architecturally, I mean that gray, prefabricated count of khrushchevki , or the more recently built fields of massive, 20-or-more-story, besides gray monstrosities that exist outside of Petersburg and Moscow in groves, on huge four-lane streets that are besides big for humans, a busbar ride away from the last metro stop on some course. Or the decay, similar-looking, but slenderly smaller buildings of poor, smaller cities where there ’ sulfur nothing to do ( as it credibly seems for a lot of people, specially young ones ) other than catch fucked up. It ’ s press down and dark. But fashion and art romanticizing poverty is nothing new .
Freeman: It ’ s an aesthetic that ’ mho arduous to trace. As we say in the sequence, Adidas ( note : a german brand ) tracksuits got democratic in the U.S. through a assortment of fun and rap culture. In the Soviet Union, they get popular for basically the lapp argue, with the add twist of western coldness, and then fake tracksuits get mass-produced within the Soviet Union and China. then, in the 2000s, Rubchinskiy ( who, by the room, is not very that popular in Russia ) gets celebrated in the West by making high fashion streetwear/athleisure, including Adidas tracksuits ( with Cyrillic writing on them ), that then get worn by high-profile Westerners like Wiz Khalifa and Kylie Jenner and Quavo .
I ’ meter laying this all out to demonstrate that it ’ s not easy to pinpoint when person is adopting gopnik aesthetic vs. hip-hop aesthetic v ’ 80s exercise aesthetic. Or if those aesthetics are even very that dissociable these days. thus when Chapo Trap House wears matching Adidas tracksuits are they cosplaying as gopniks, Run-DMC, or the Royal Tenenbaums ? Who knows .
sol I ’ d say the adoption of Gopnik aesthetic in the West is happening predominantly in fashion ( like Gosha ) and probably on the internet for those Westerners who participate in the Slav squatting meme. I hope the squat sticks around in America, I hear it ’ s estimable for you.

Miles Klee

Miles Klee is MEL ’ randomness house physician tank-top dirtbag, shitposter and meme technical. He ’ sulfur besides the generator of the novel ‘ Ivyland ’ and a story collection, ‘ True False. ’

source : https://kembeo.com
Category : Fashion

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