Goncharov

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Fandom
Name: Goncharov
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: zootycoon
Date(s): August 21, 2020
Medium: Memes, Parafandom
Country of Origin:
External Links: Goncharov on Wikipedia
Fan made poster by beelzeebub (2022)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Goncharov is an overnight fandom and meme surrounding a nonexistent 1973 mafia film of the same name directed by Martin Scorsese. The fandom originates from a Tumblr post by user zootycoon, alleging that they received a pair of knock-off boots with details of said fake film printed on the label.

The Goncharov fandom is comprised of memes, fandom posts, and transformative works purportedly based off the film. Many posts describe different aspects of the film as if it were real, including characters, scenes, a plotline, a castlist, posters, and production history. Fandom members often engage in kayfabe by discussing the film as if it exists. Goncharov transformative works are considered parafandom as they are based on a nonexistent work.

Some would argue that the fan made poster of the film in 2022 by beelzeebub is the catalyst for the current Goncharov's popularity. Since then, Goncharov and its fandom received significant media coverage and responses from notable individuals, including Scorsese, often playing along with the meme.

Origin

It's been noted that Tumblr posts often exist for a while before becoming memes, as is the case for Live Slug Reaction, horse plinko and the 'Colour Theory' meme. The original post by zootycoon was uploaded on 21st August 2020, and reads as follows:

i got these knockoff boots online and instead of the brand name on the tag they have the name of an apparently nonexistent martin scorsese movie??? what the fuck

loseremo's reblog, showing a screenshot of abandonedambition's reply of "this idiot hasn't seen goncharov", arose a mere day later.[1] On Twitter the same thing happened, with users using the same narrative when someone disagreed with the existence of Goncharov.[2]

It wasn't until around 19th November, 2022, however, more than two years after the original post, that the meme took off.

quest for goncharov boots, Archived version, substack post by bnet. Posted 15 September 2020.

'Gomorrah' poster (for a real Scorsese film) was the basis of the original knock-off boots design, Archived version - Posted 18 November 2022. (reblog with more context/explanation tying the poster to the boots, Archived version and post by vergess, Archived version about the OCR errors and why this made Goncharov.)

2022 Tumblr Resurgence

On November 18th, Tumblr user beelzeebub posted their film poster for the fake film, captioned "The greatest mafia movie (n)ever made."[3] The post accrued 24,000 notes by November 20th, and many other users began contributing their own content, including reviews[4], fake history of the film, and fake explanations for the viral trend[5].

While we were all lamenting the demise of Twitter, Tumblr has apparently... made a fake 1970s Martin Scorsese film to have ship wars about? Am I getting this right?[6]

On November 20th, #goncharov was the top trending tag on Tumblr.[7]

Due to the nature of the joke, attempts were made to alleviate any harm towards folks suffering with delusions or who had had experience with gaslighting, mostly in the form of reminding users to tag their posts with #unreality.[Note 1]

The fandom has expanded to Twitter, with many users comparing the sites and what they like and even discussing Goncharov.

[dr_nicodemus]
While twitter is burning down, Tumblr is having a site-wide discussion and analysis of Martin Scorsese's groundbreaking mafia movie "Goncharov" (1973). Which does not exist. There are already four pages of fanfiction on AO3.[8]

Some Twitter users also commented on the number of fan-created content for Goncharov, such as VHS tapes or books, and, of course, some have compared the amount of transformative work from this particular fandom to canon fandoms like the James Cameron's Avatar film:[Note 2]

[gwenstacying]
the goncharov bit on tumblr right now is one of the insane things I eve ever seen. I have seen people create fake VSH tapes, fake books, fake soundtracks, fake academic essays, and now over 100 pieces of fanfiction[9]
[ranbootrends]
There are officially more works than Avatar[10]

Media Coverage and Celebrity Engagement

By November 21st, Polygon and other non-fannish publications began reporting on the craze.[11] On November 22nd, @staff, an official account for Tumblr staff announcements, made a post showing some highlights of the fandom.[12] Over the next few days, even mainstream news outlets such as The New York Times[13] and The Guardian[14] had published pieces about Goncharov.

On November 25th, Martin Scorsese's daughter posted a TikTok that showed texts between her and her father wherein she sends him a link to a New York Times article about Goncharov and asks, "Did u see this?" and he replies, "Yes. I made that film years ago."[15]

Further Development in Tumblr Culture

By the end of 2022, "Goncharov" or "gonch" had begun to be used as a verb, meaning a collective commitment to a bit so intense that those not in on the joke buy into whatever "the bit" is.

In May 2023, the "goncharov index" was proposed (and enthusiastically adopted) as a measure of a fandom's relative popularity or obscurity; a fandom's goncharov index is defined as the number of fanworks in that fandom on AO3 divided by the number of fanworks for Goncharov.

people trying to insist a fandom is tiny when it /only/ has a few thousand works on ao3 meanwhile my current fandom is a sixteen book series and has several hundred fewer works than goncharov, a movie that, and i cannot stress this enough, doesn’t even exist

measuring the size of fandoms based on their goncharov index #this has been a useless text post you may now resume your normal programming #rote has a goncharov index of 0.63 #for perspective ofmd has an index of 26.5 #spn's is 360.8 #the cosmere is 2.26 for a fantasy book comparison #i am very normal[16]

Canon Overview

The supposedly canon elements of Goncharov are built upon the collaborative nature of its conception. The elaborate fiction of its narrative content may contradict each other, and the details are often inconsistant as a result.

Characters

  • Goncharov (aka Lo Straniero) - Lead character, supposedly dead at the end of the film
  • Andrey “The Banker” Daddano - Goncharov places him under guardianship, referring to Andrey as a reminder of his betrayal of Katya's father
  • Katya Goncharov née Michailov - Goncharov's wife, she fakes her death at one point on film
  • Valery Michailov - Katya's brother
  • Katya's father - killed in the boathouse at the beginning of the film (not yet named)
  • Joseph "Ice Pick Joe" Morelli - Tragic figure. Usually dead by the end of the film
  • Sofia Modigliani - a Lesbian girl protected by Katya (recently some users are giving the surname "Daddano" to Sofia, creating a possible link between her and Andrey)
  • Mario Ambrosini - supposed plot villain
  • Maura O'Byrne - immigrant worker just trying to get by but ends up in the middle of everything
  • Fruit Stand Worker - a gentle old gentleman with white hair who is apparently present in the scenes with the homoerotic moments of either Goncharov/Andrey or Katya/Sofia

Shipping

Memorable Scenes & Moments

  • Beer Bottle Scene
  • Bridge Scene
  • Poker Scene
  • Boat Scene
  • Anchovy Scene
  • Fruit Stand Scene
  • Clocktower Scene
  • Bedroom Scene
  • Dressing for Dinner Scene
  • Hallway Scene
  • Cigarette Lighting Scene

Themes & Tropes

  • Clock Symbolism
  • Bird Symbolism
  • Fruit Symbolism
  • Betrayal
  • Political Commentary of various kinds
  • Homoerotic Subtext between Goncharov and Andrey
  • Homoerotic Subtext between Katya and Sofia
[gingerhastoomanyobsessions]
Goncharov Lore Thus Far, based on the top tumblr post results
  • Main cast are Goncharov himself, his wife Katya (née Michailov), and Andrey 
  • One side character is named Mario Ambrosini. He is described as a “sad boi” and is involved in gambling. 
  • Set in Naples and involving a drug ring/mafia. The plot seems to involve Russian organized crime attempting to get a foothold in Italy. 
  • There is a Boat Scene. Katya survives via resourcefulness. 
  • Andrey and Goncharov have a substantial amount of homoeroticism. Andrey also has an internet in Katya. This forms a true love triangle. 
  • At some point, Katya threatens to shoot Goncharov. This is framed as a Girlboss Moment. 
  • There is also a Beer Bottle Scene. 
  • Katya fakes her death.

  • heavy clock symbolism. A pivotal scene occurs at a clock tower, there is a grandfather clock in the background of some sets, etc 
  • A supporting female character named Sofia makes an appearance, wearing a cocktail dress. Katya protects her at some point. They’re both in the Boat Scene. At one point they buy fruit together in a marketplace. This is lesbian shipping fuel. 
  • The villain, likely Mario, has a sidekick named Icepick Joe. Joe commits a final act of heroism before being left for dead— after being killed by an Icepick. Perhaps he turned against Mario and was killed in retaliation?
  • Goncharov, played by DeNiro, has a very distinctive manner of walking. 
  • Katya’s brother, Valery, makes an appearance.[17]

  • The story involves Goncharov losing himself in a downward spiral. It is a tragedy of unbecoming.
  • There’s a Bridge Scene. This is the one with the clocktower chiming in the background.
  • There’s a scene involving a tank of anchovies.
  • Icepick Joe has a traumatic backstory
  • Katya betrays Goncharov AND Sofia. She’s well-intentioned, but it all comes crashing down, ending in her losing them both— losing Sofia emotionally and inadvertently causing Goncharov’s death
  • There’s a shootout in Pompeii in which Mario destroys historically significant architecture. This is representative of the destructive nature of nationalism.[18]
[violetgevny]

from posts I’ve witnessed (only mentioning things I’ve seen >5 blogs post about)

- there is an Anchovies scene, and fish symbolism also plays a heavy role. at some point Katya is seen near a fish bowl full of goldfish, and this is important to the Boat Scene as well.

- Goncharov and Andrey have homoerotic tension, and this is used to further statements about the cycle of repression and violence[18]
[aroaceofthesea]
Haven't seen goncharov (1973) yet? In that case go watch it RIGHT NOW, but if you don't have the time for a 3h 32mins film (which is understandable but you have to make the time at some point) and you want to understand the memes I have you covered. (Keep in mind that there are gonna be important spoilers in this post)

Important characters:

  • Goncharov
  • Katya Michailov - Goncharov's wife
  • Andrey - Goncharov's lover (or almost)
  • Sofia - Katya's lover

Minor characters

  • Mario Ambrosini
  • Ice pick Joe
  • Valery Michailov - Katya's brother

Important scenes

  • The Boat Scene: a scene in which Katya almost dies.
  • Beer Bottle Scene: an infamous scene in the movie
  • Anchovy scene: a scene with heavy homoerotic subtext between Goncharov and Andrey
  • Dressing for dinner scene: a scene where Katya and Andrey are shown dressing up with cuts that give each of the things they wear the same importance as survival items, from Katya's high heels to Andrey's dagger
  • Bridge scene: goodbye scene between Katya and Goncharov. Beautifully made as you can see Katya second guessing her choice to betray him but she's too far in to turn back
  • Fruit stand scene: a heavily homoerotic conversation between Katya and Sofia while they are buying apples

Important plot points

  • Katya betrays Goncharov
  • Andrey betrays him too for money
  • Goncharov has betrayed Katya's family too, and Andrey is a living reminder of that
  • Goncharov is shot at the end, resulting in his death
  • Katya fakes her death at one point
  • Katya's father is killed at the beginning of the movie and she feels responsible for it for almost the entire movie, until she finally accepts that there was nothing more she could have done to save him, only to die alone in the boathouse
  • Even though Katya loves Goncharov, when she has to choose between him and Sofia, she chooses Sofia
  • There is a love triangle between Goncharov, Andrey and Katya too

Other important things

  • The clock symbolism is just so important in this film it deserved to be here[19]

Fandom Reactions

[fiercestpurpose]
breaking kayfabe to say that goncharov posting combines the tumblr user's love of doubling down on an obvious lie (e.g. sharks are smooth) with the tumblr user's love of writing paragraphs of discourse on ultimately meaningless things[20]
[leehallfae]
little pieces of made-up symbolism images and plot points invented for joke posts that go viral all adding up into a somewhat cohesive frankenstein’s monster of a screenplay like the world’s most chaotic, widespread exquisite corpse, and on that day we will have finally willed it into existence: the greatest mafia movie ever made[21]
[birdblogwhichisforbirds]
Breaking kayfabe for a moment. Aside from a few "my favorite part of Goncharov is when the dinosaurs emerged from the spaceship" jokes (which didn't get reblogged much, people have generally been careful not to directly contradict what anyone else says about Goncharov and taken a "yes, and" attitude. However, people keep wanting to invent their own scenes of the movie and there are now so many "canonical" Goncharov scenes that the movie must be like 17 hours long.[22]
[lumsel]
Yeah and every minute is a masterpiece[22]
[a-treatise-on-velociraptors]
I think what makes Goncharov work as a joke concept *is* peoples' willingness to break the kayfabe about it. I love the Goncharov trend a ton, but I cannot handle humor where people pretend something is real and absolutely refuse to admit that it isn't and/or refuse to let people in on the bit. When that happens it feels like they're laughing at your expense, watching you get increasingly frustrated at the dissonance and taking that frustration as part of the bit, turning you into part of the punchline. I'm not seeing any of that with Goncharov, at least as far as the more popular users participating in it. Whenever people ask for context, the original post is provided and the situation is explained. People are diligently tagging unreality.[Note 1] It's absolutely delightful and it makes the joke so much more lighthearted than it would have been if the atmosphere was one of "if you don't know the context we won't explain the joke."[23]
[mulderscully]
isn’t it so interesting how days ago goncharov wasn’t real but now it is real. this movie didn’t exist but all us just created a movie. this is how stories come to life. gonacharov is our iliad and i’m not even joking. this is how things go from nothing to a story.[24]
[lonelyroommp3]
beginning to get goncharov fatigue but not in the “you guys are running this into the ground” way that tends to affect most tumblr gags. i’m instead experiencing roughly the same sort of disgruntlement i would start to feel with any popular fandom that has started to creep towards the flanderisation stage where i’m like come on guys. this post is clearly ooc. katya wouldn’t say that[25]
[milfmarthawayne]
Very interested to see how tumblr’s usual introduction-adulation-cancellation cycle plays out vis-a-vis Goncharov.

Okay, since nobody asked I will explain further.

Typically, a piece of media can only sustain popularity on tumblr for so long before users begin pointing to its flaws as proof positive that it’s morally bankrupt to engage with said piece of media at all.

Watching Goncharov’s upswing in popularity makes me wonder if it’s cracked the code to circumventing this phenomenon entirely. It may be the perfect piece of media for tumblr as its very nonexistence allows it to remain truly flawless and therefore uncancellable. I guess only time will tell.[26]
[miskatonicwater]
Not dying a hero or living long enough to become the villain but a secret third, more hilariously stupid, thing.[26][Note 3]

Controversy

Content Warning for Unreality

Since the central motivation/joke of the 2022 was acting as if a real movie called Goncharov was created in the 1970s, when in fact it was not, there was much discussion on tumblr about how to handle the contradiction -- basically, how to participate in the joke without shaming people who got confused, or triggering fans who deal with psychosis and delusions. "Tag your unreality" became a bit of a slogan among some segments of the Goncharov fandom.[27] Others pushed back against this, saying that the pressure to tag posts comes with its own downsides.[28] While there was disagreement within the fandom, overall many fans felt welcomed by the treatment of the joke, and it was favorable compared to previous social media "fakes" such as "sharks are smooth".[23][29][Note 4]

Goncharov as a Reflection of Fandom's Whiteness

Some fans have pointed out that as an entirely imaginary canon invented wholesale by fandom, the fact that the main cast of the film is entirely white is telling.

goncharov would not exist if internet culture and fandom actually gave a shit about poc in cinema ... all you could think about was going back to 1970’s white ass filmmaking. all you could think of was making up two italian guys.[30]

...i was given pause by fandom's willingness to start producing immense amounts of fanfic, fanart, and other fan content about white characters who literally lack a source material when fandom so often claims that they can't care about characters of color because they're underwritten, and almost never invents characters of color wholecloth out of nothing.[31]

The poster, which is great, I mean excellent work… obviously has no people of color on it? It’s representative of a Scorsese film from that era and that means… there aren’t going to be people of color front and center. So we have a made up film that in its imagined unreality does not have any people of color present because of where they started from. (But then also, could you have this sort of imagined unreality build up around a “lost” telenovela? A Nollywood family drama based off of an error in a document? Like people, even from those communities, cannot extend their limits.)

[...]

Because fandom can dream up these incredible worlds, amazing stories… all primarily populated by white characters, with some light skinned POC as love interests or stereotyped to hell secondary support. Fandom cannot and clearly, as evidenced by years of inactivity, does not want to imagine Black/brown people as the front runner for their fannish empathy and engagement.[32]

Fanworks

Fanart

Fanfiction

Gifs

Graphics

Meta and Further Reading

Fan Music and Filksong

Memes

Short Films and Trailers

Other

Resources and Links

Notes

  1. ^ a b For more thorough explanation of #unreality (both in regards to Goncharov specifically and tumblr etiquette in general) see this post, Archived version by bibliosphere.
  2. ^ The comparison to Cameron's Avatar, specifically, may have become common thanks to this tumblr post, Archived version.
  3. ^ Miskatonic's response is quote a current meme template on tumblr, "neither <x> nor <y> but some secret third thing"
  4. ^ "Sharks are smooth" was sparked by a Twitter conversation but gained viral and staying popularity on Tumblr, Archived version and Reddit, Archived version.
  5. ^ the original post, Archived version asking to get 666 thousand notes; it spawned similar posts (example 1, Archived version), parodies, (example 2, Archived version), and discussion (example in reblogs on original post, Archived version.

References

  1. ^ https://loseremo.tumblr.com/post/627117270398894080 -- see also same post with more explanation, Archived version
  2. ^ Tweet by ethanoic__acid, Archived version. Posted 21 November 2022, in response to Mark Danielewski's tweet comparing the Goncharov phenomenon to his book House of Leaves.
  3. ^ post by beelzeebub, Archived version
  4. ^ a b Also I’d really like to see more leftist analysis of Goncharov, re:..., meta by cryptid-sighting, posted 19 November 2022.
  5. ^ a b for those who are confused:, Archived version, (fake) explanation of the tumblr trend by mortalityplays. Followup comment providing a (fake) history of the production, distribution, and suppression of the film by brinconvenient. Posted 20 November 2022.
  6. ^ A concise description of Goncharov, for anyone as confused as I was when I first awoke., Archived version, tumblr post by moorishflower, commenting on a Twitter conversation between Natasha Simonova and Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. Both posted 20 November 2022.
  7. ^ Archive.today snapshot from 20 November 2022, showing #goncharov in the number 1 trending slot on Tumblr's Explore page. See also Tumblr post by allthingsmustpass1970.
  8. ^ Tweet by dr_nicodemus, Archived version. Posted 21 November 2022.
  9. ^ Tweet by gwenstacying, Archived version. Posted 21 November 2021.
  10. ^ Tweet by ranbootrends, Archived version. Posted 22 November 2021 in reply to Gwen Stacying.
  11. ^ found this article about goncharov. it’s also not the only article out there lmao, Archived version. Tumblr post by bisexualenglishmajor. See also the linked Article by Polygon.
  12. ^ Tumblr Tuesday: The Greatest Mafia Movie, Archived version. Post by staff, 22 November 2022.
  13. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/22/style/goncharov-scorsese-tumblr.html
  14. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/nov/25/goncharov-why-has-the-internet-invented-a-fake-martin-scorsese-film
  15. ^ TikTok by @francescascorsese. Posted 25 November 2022.
  16. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version Tumblr post by thenightisland, Posted 20 May 2023
  17. ^ Goncharov Lore Thus Far, based on the top tumblr post results, Archived version, tumblr post by gingerhastoomanyobsessions. Posted 20 November 2022.
  18. ^ a b Goncharov Lore Thus Far..., Archived version. Tumblr post by gingerhastoomanyobsessions. Posted 20 November 2022.
  19. ^ Haven’t seen goncharov (1973) yet?, Archived version, tumblr post by aroaceofthesea. Posted 20 November 2022.
  20. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by fiercestpurpose. Posted 19 November 2022.
  21. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by leehallfae. Posted 20 November 2022.
  22. ^ a b Tumblr post, Archived version by birdblogwhichisforbirds, with response by lumsel. Posted 21 November 2022.
  23. ^ a b Tumblr post, Archived version by a-treatise-on-velociraptors. Posted 20 November 2022.
  24. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by mulderscully. Posted 20 November 2022.
  25. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by lonelyroommp3. Posted 21 November 2022.
  26. ^ a b Tumblr post, Archived version by milfmarthawayne, with followup by miskatonicwater. Posted 20 November 2022.
  27. ^ this post, Archived version by bibliosphere.
  28. ^ i kind of see “tag your goncharov as unreality” as ye olden “tag your pomegranates” phenomenon.. Posted to Tumblr on 26 November 2022.
  29. ^ Post comparing "sharks are smooth" to Goncharov, Archived version, by headspace-hotel. Posted 8 December 2022.
  30. ^ Tumblr post by richiebadnews, November 26, 2022.
  31. ^ Tumblr post by moistvonlipwig, December 5, 2022.
  32. ^ On The Limits of Fandom Imagination and the Collective (Un) Reality Around Goncharov, Stitch's Media Mix, November 24, 2022.
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