Martin Scorsese presents: ‘Goncharov,’ the most effective mafia movie (n)ever made


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In an performing profession spanning almost six many years, Robert De Niro has starred as numerous gangsters, Mafiosi and mob bosses. However earlier than Jimmy Conway or a younger Vito Corleone graced screens, De Niro was a discothèque-manager-turned-Russian-hit-man within the movie “Goncharov.”

Although it had a star-studded solid checklist, a transferring theme music and all of the juicy drama of the enemies-to-lovers trope, the 1973 film remained largely obscure till final week, when “Goncharov” started trending on social media. Practically 50 years later, the movie billed as “offered by Martin Scorsese” was being hailed as “the best mafia film ever made.”

With one caveat: “Goncharov” is definitely a meme — or, to be extra exact, the work of a whole lot of individuals internationally who collectively developed the backstory and all of the plot parts of a film that, properly, has by no means existed.

“This grew to become nearly like ‘Argo,’ ” mentioned Jamie Cohen, a media research professor at CUNY Queens School, referencing the phony sci-fi movie CIA brokers used as a entrance to free hostages in Iran in 1979. “However this is a little more advanced as a result of it’s creating some form of widescale fan fiction — nearly with the concept of manifesting a film into actuality. On the similar time, it’s additionally a little bit of a collective joke or prank.”

Like “Woman Explaining” and “Distracted Boyfriend,” the pretend Scorsese flick falls underneath the strict definition of a meme: “one thing that’s digital, made on-line with consciousness of different memes and permits different individuals to copy it or remix it,” Cohen mentioned. However on the similar time, “Goncharov” is not only a nonetheless picture being shared with new textual content overlays; it’s a digital storytelling cacophony, mashing up fan fiction with audio and visuals.

How a photograph of a girl yelling in a man’s ear grew to become a viral meme

In different phrases, “Goncharov” is a meme on steroids. And its origins return to a years-old put up of a shoe with a bizarre label on Tumblr, a microblogging-focused social media web site based in 2007.

In 2020, Tumblr person zootycoon posted a few pair of “knockoff boots” bought on-line that referenced a “nonexistent” Scorsese film. The tag learn: “THE GREATEST MAFIA MOVIE EVER MADE, MARTIN SCORSESE PRESENTS GONCHAROV, DOMENICO PROCACCI PRODUCTION, A FILM…ABOUT THE NAPLES MAFIA.”

A 12 months later, the put up was reshared together with a screenshot of a sarcastic reply that learn, “this fool hasn’t seen goncharov.” As of this week, a whole lot have piled on with plot concepts, scene scripts and even music for a film that adopted Goncharov, a Russian man making an attempt to shake off his hit-man way of life by retiring to Naples within the ’70s.

The plot goes as follows: In his quest for normalcy, Goncharov falls in love together with his sworn enemy, Andrey “The Banker” Daddano. On the similar time, Goncharov’s spouse, Katya, has a fling with a girl named Sofia. Within the midst of all of it, there’s an ice-pick-wielding villain. And, spoiler alert: A lot of the characters finally wind up lifeless, together with Goncharov, who’s not solely killed however betrayed.

How a shoe label impressed a internet-fueled pretend movie remains to be a little bit of a thriller. Nevertheless, Tumblr person @dogsuffrage posited that “Goncharov” was most likely a misspelled model of “Gomorrah,” the identify of a 2008 Scorsese-supported movie.

Regardless, the movie’s cult following ultimately spilled onto Twitter and TikTok — to the utter confusion of some customers, who initially thought “Goncharov” was an actual deal. That’s the way it grew to become a working joke that even Scorsese himself appeared to acknowledge in a TikTok video posted Saturday by his daughter, Francesca.

“Sure. I made that movie years in the past,” Scorsese texted again when Francesca requested if he’d seen the information about “Goncharov.”

Greater than an try at gaslighting the world with a pretend film, Cohen mentioned “Goncharov” represents the fruits “of attention-grabbing items of web ephemera from the 2010s” — a decade marked by the proliferation of fan fiction and fan artwork. It additionally underscores “a brand new form of Tumblr revival,” because the social media platform good points new customers amid Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

“Tumblr has at all times been good at these threaded, stacked replies the place individuals construct off one another,” Cohen mentioned. “It was the right area for this to go viral, particularly as individuals are migrating away from Twitter’s chaos.”

But, like so many different memes, Cohen mentioned “Goncharov” is likely to be nearing its web peak.

“When memes grow to be mainstream, the lure, secrecy and the web possession goes with it,” he mentioned. Nonetheless, “Goncharov” has been a vibrant spot for social media — a glowing instance that the digital world can truly be a enjoyable place.

“For all of the nastiness and chaos, that is not less than a type of moments that provide you with hope as a result of it’s a participatory, optimistic expertise through which individuals discover pleasure and don’t get damage,” Cohen added.


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