Sunday, September 11, 2011

Know your Russian Stereotype: The Gopnik

(This is my attempt at showing off the funnier side of Russian society, hope you enjoy it)

Essentially crude urban poor whose eccentric style reflects a desire to look like criminals (or be criminals), the Gopnik (Гопники) is an easily recognizable character in Russia for anyone who has been there in the 1990s and early 2000s. The epitome of low culture in Russia, the Gopnik has become the butt of many Russian jokes. In the article posted, the history and identity of the Gopnik is explained.

If you are going to study abroad in Russia, some basic knowledge about the Gopnik might be very useful in certain situations, like going to bars and clubs with friends, walking the street, or understanding some jokes. That said, here are some quick facts about the Gopnik:

-Traditionally, Gopniks wore tracksuits. This is because they were both fashionable and practical. Perfect for the criminal on the run. Notable brands were Nike, Adidas, and Abibas (black market rip-off)

-Gopniks listen to mainly two types of music, the chanson (songs mainly about criminal life) and techno

-Gopniks enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages (жигулевское, Jaguar, портвейн три семерки, anything that is cheap), cigarettes (Пётр I, Ява), and sunflower seeds

-They are usually violent and xenophobic

However, today it looks as if as Russia changes, so changes the Gopnik. The traditional Gopnik is harder to find as more Gopniks drop the clichéd tracksuits and techno of the 90s to pick up the suits and ties of today. Still, their boorish behavior and chauvinistic attitudes remain.

One final thing should be noted though; normal Russians dislike the Gopnik immensely. Russians typically would like to see themselves as cultured or at least maintaining some sense of class, while the concept of the Gopnik flies in the face of that. Many normal Russians tend to feel oppressed by Gopniks and their crassness in the public space. To best sum up these feelings, I leave you with the song "Гопники" by the band Зоопарк.

"Gopniks! Gopniks! They make it hard for all of us to live!"

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hey! You are mostly right about 'gopnik' explanation but originaly gopnik is a member of youth gang (from 13 y.o. till 18) the phenomena of those gangs comes from Soviet period (like 1980 and even older). Sure you will able to find a lot of material if you type in google 'Казанский Феномен' that is Kazan Phenomena (Kazan is a city). But the very word 'gopnik' as a noun originates from (about) 1920 from a verb /GOPnichat'/ which means to travel by the train without a ticket for a long distances and live by stealing, the word was almost forgoten btw till 1985, you can find an example in a novel written by L. Panteleev "Republic SHKID" (the book explains a lot about
Soviet Russia and it's fun to read it). So "TO Gopnichat'" means to move and steal, youth gangs had to move too to protect their territory and in (about) 1985 they were started to be called 'gopniki-plural noun'. Today's gopnik it is a street young criminal a member of some lower level gang. baggy clothes are good for gopnik to fight not to run (!!!) and there is really nothing funny about those people, I mean 'gopnik' isn't fun word either. When you say 'gopnik' a person will imagine a young guy in cheap
sport clothes with very short haircut who can easily pick up on you to get your money. It is true there are many jokes about 'gopniki' because they are not very clever people. Gopnik is very similar to Skinhead but has more criminal features and less anti racial ones. Hope I helped in some way.