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It’s the preferred pose of the Russian ‘gopnik.’
Instead of saying “cheese” for your next picture, why not just take a knee?
Some Russians have a clear propensity to pose for photographs in a crouched position, as pointed out in this culturally insensitive Imgur post. The so-called “squat shot” is not an artifact of Russian culture at large, but is actually a crucial piece of Russia’s gopnik subculture.
Gopniks are young males, generally from a lower-class background or poor education. They also display a blatant disregard for the law—fighting and drinking in public are common behaviors. They are comparable to England’s chavs or Scotland’s neds. In America, we might call them hoodrats. And sometimes their façades seem to border on self-parody:
The gopnik’s female counterpart is called a “sipovka.” Note the knife:
Gopnik culture (and its corresponding pose) is so ubiquitous that a Russian clothing store might have mannequins on display in the crouched position, replete with many gopniks’ clothing of choice: the Adidas tracksuit.
This non-sequitur (yet somehow still informative) video titled “How To Be A Gopnik” goes into yet deeper detail about the lifestyle.
As for what this crouched position “means” in the bigger sense, who knows? It definitely summons up images of hip-hop artists mugging for the camera in what’s been called the “prison pose” or “rap squat.”
We can say for sure, then, that Russians have borrowed the affectation from Americans. But for all that rappers embraced it in the 1980s and 1990s, the identity of the true originator will always remain a mystery.
Or will he?
Photo via SuperiorSwede/Imgur
Dylan Love is an editorial consultant and journalist whose reporting interests include emergent technology, digital media, and Russian language and culture. He is a former staff writer for the Daily Dot, and his work has been published by Business Insider, International Business Times, Men's Journal, and the Next Web.