January 4, 2023

Realism in drama as cultural specialty of nations peripheral to Western Euro empires: Scandinavian, Russian, American ethnogenesis

I was trying to think of an analogy to help non-Americans understand how the East Coast of America is the culturally weakest region for American national identity, i.e. in setting the standards for American culture, in contrast to the regions out West (beginning in the Midwest, out to the West Coast).

The Bos-Wash corridor does have lots of institutions that look familiar to the those of Western European empires -- painting galleries, symphonic orchestras, opera, ballet, musical theatre, and so on. But that does not define American culture, and we have never come close to dominating any of those formats. Rather, American culture is defined by innovations from out West -- movies (and later, prestige TV shows), pop music, architecture, fashion, food, etc.

Aside from cultural production, the Western accent defines the standard for American dialects, while everything back East is deviant from it. The main thing being the cot-caught merger, which distinguishes standard American and most Canadian dialects from our British roots (or our Australian cousins). Americans (aside from back East) have unrounded the lower-back vowels.

This is surprising to people from most other countries because their political and cultural centers are in the same place, such as London in Britain, Paris in France, Madrid in Spain, and so on. In America, the political capitals have been back East (New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC). But the cultural capitals have always been out West -- starting in the Old Northwest / Northwest Territory (especially Chicago), and later settling on southern California.

That reflects our meta-ethnic frontier with the Indians. East Coasters did get attacked by Indians and drove them westward (or into Florida), but then that was that. The longest and fiercest battles against the Indians were in the Old Northwest, and anywhere west of the Mississippi River. This got particularly fierce once we encountered the semi-nomadic Athabaskan / Na-Dene tribes out in the Plains and Rocky Mountains area, like the Apache, Navajo, Comanche, etc. (only the Pueblo were sedentary and relatively civilized). And of course we waged a war against the Mexicans in the Southwest.

Even when we reached the Pacific Coast, we were still intent on Manifest Destiny / westward expansion, and took over the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. We colonized Hawaii in the middle of the ocean, and came into a collision course with the Japanese who were already expanding in the Pacific Islands region. We tried and failed to take over Korea (though still occupying the southern half that wanted us on their side of a civil war), tried and failed to take over mainland Southeast Asia, though thankfully have not been suicidal enough to try -- and fail -- waging a land war against China.

The point is: out West has always defined the strong Us vs. Them meta-ethnic frontier, has always been the incubator for our collective identity as a people (ethnogenesis), and has always been the main source of the production of American culture.

* * *

The closest analog I can think of is the difference between Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia. Russian ethnogenesis is defined by the meta-ethnic frontier against various invaders from the Steppe, which lies to the south of the Russian heartland. There were only sporadic threats from the north -- the ailing Lithuanian Empire, and the microsecond when Sweden was a great power, after the other bona fide empires had decimated themselves during the Thirty Years War.

But in reaction to those northern threats, the rulers of Russia founded a new great city in the north (on the grounds of a former Swedish fortress), and dumped as much money and hype as they could into making it a Window to the West, which would rival the cultural production of the Western Euro empires of the Early Modern period. That city is Saint Petersburg, far up north on the Baltic Sea, which also became the political capital from the early 1700s to the early 1900s.

Moscow lies much further to the south. For political administration, it is classified as Central Russia. But culturally, it is southern, as evidenced by its dialect.

The main split among Russian dialects is a northern-to-southern difference in the use of vowel reduction in unstressed syllables. The "akanye" dialects reduce them, and are in the south; the "okanye" dialects do not reduce them, and are in the north. For example, the word for "milk" is transliterated as "moloko," but is pronounced more like "muh-luh-KO-uh" in the southern / akanye dialects, where the first two "o" vowels (in the unstressed syllables) have been reduced to something like a schwa. Northern / okanye dialects pronounce both of them as an "o".

And sure enough, the Moscow dialect is akanye, or vowel-reducing, placing it squarely within the southern cultural region of Russia. (Due west of Moscow lies the country of Belarus, almost all of which is akanye as well, and Belarusian even incorporates that into its orthography, so that these altered vowels have altered spellings as well, to make it transparent. Russian orthography spells them as they were before, similar to English orthography reflecting the state of the language *before* the transformative Great Vowel Shift.)

So, Moscow defines the standard Russian dialect, but is it also the primary incubator for Russian cultural production? If you judge by the standards of "similarity to Western European imperial culture," then the answer is "no" -- that would be Saint Petersburg, whose architecture, music, literary circles, etc., were deliberately meant to be a nexus between the West and Russia.

But as with the Bos-Wash corridor, Russia does not dominate any of those fields -- the German and Austrian empires dominated classical music, the French dominated painting, and most of the architects of Saint Petersburg were foreigners from Italy and elsewhere, not Russians.

The Russian style of ballet came closer to dominant status in its field, and did hail more from the Saint Petersburg region. But even in that field, their greatest global influence came from expats in Paris and elsewhere in the West, who launched the Ballets Russes touring company (whose director, Sergei Diaghilev, was not merely based in the north, but was born and raised there as well -- in the Novgorod province).

Russians did much better in the field of literature, although -- to come to the central point of the post -- their largest contributions came from the south, close to Moscow, and less so from the Saint Petersburg circle. Dostoyevsky, originally from Moscow but part of the Saint Petersburg scene, found high esteem among major cultural figures in the empires to the west on the continent -- Nietzsche, Kafka, Freud, Sartre, and others. This is the role of the city as the Window to the West.

But within Russia itself -- and later, outside as well -- the major literary figure is Tolstoy, who was born, raised, and wrote his major works near Tula, even further south than Moscow. As much as Russians may value Dostoyevsky for psychological and philosophical insight, when it comes to defining the Russian-ness of the Russian people / nation / empire / experience, Tolstoy ranks at the top.

And after Tolstoy, the most important Russian literary figure is Chekhov, who was born and raised in Taganrog, so far south that it's right on the Sea of Azov. The province, Rostov, is part of the Pontic-Caspian steppe -- *the* meta-ethnic frontier for the Russians vs. the Turkic and Mongolian nomads. In early adulthood his family moved to Moscow, where he remained as a writer.

Bulgakov was a southerner, too -- born and raised in Kiev, settling in Moscow as a writer in adulthood. Gorky began life as a central-to-northerner (from Nizhny Novgorod, where vowel reduction is only partial, not full as in the akanye dialects), but he lived in Moscow as a writer. Although lesser figures than the two above, their importance will be seen below, in connection to the birth and spread of dramatic realism.

* * *

I'll leave architecture for another post, perhaps. But as a brief aside, Saint Petersburg did not define Russian architecture -- most of its architects were foreign, and it's not what Russians or foreigners think of as "Russian architecture". That would be the colored onion domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, near the beginning of Russian ethnogenesis, up through the Constructivist and Stalinist styles of the 20th C., also centered in Moscow (such as the Seven Sisters skyscrapers).

Modern architecture is another example of Russia and America, and to a lesser extent Scandinavia, cooperating and convergently evolving to a similar style, as they all distinguished themselves from the cultural production of the moribund and collapsed Western Euro empires, whose architecture was far less monumental than skyscrapers, was elaborately ornamented, and always had an ancient or Medieval revival influence going on somewhere, rather than being new and futuristic. Americans have boogeyman images of "Stalinist architecture" as just a big concrete box, but look at any of the Seven Sisters and see how similar they are to Louis Sullivan, Art Deco, and the skyscraper form in general.

As another even briefer aside, the same approach to furniture and the design of objects in general followed similar trends, pioneered by these same three regions, at the same time, for the same reasons -- to distinguish themselves from the cultural works of Western Euro empires. Art Deco, Danish / Midcentury Modern, Soviet industrial design, all peas in a pod.

* * *

Much like the domain of architecture, the domain of stage drama was more formal, ornamental, and stylized in the Western Euro empires of Britain and France. That included both spoken plays and musical theatre. The German and Austrian empires specialized less in spoken plays, but they did specialize in opera, since they had already dominated classical music.

This influence spread to Italian opera, not only from German and Austrian composers writing in Italian, but even the native Italian opera composers were under Austrian cultural influence, as the opera capital in Milan was under Austrian dominion from the early 1700s through the 1860s -- including when La Scala opera house was built in the late 1700s.

Against these pinnacles of ornamental, stylized, formalist approaches to stage drama, within the main Western Euro empires, there arose an entirely new approach outside. Not entirely outside, as though on the other side of the world, but on the periphery of these empires, interacting with them enough to know what they were producing, but not within them in order to participate in that production itself.

This new approach, roughly called realism or modernism, arose in Scandinavia, beginning with Ibsen (Denmark-Norway) and Strindberg (Sweden) in the live performance format of the 19th C., and later Bergman (Sweden) in the recorded film format of the 20th C. Putting thematic concerns aside, on a formal level its main innovation was to abandon verse and stylized language in favor of prose and an informal register -- and therefore, divorcing drama from opera or musical theatre, which was the dominant trend among the Western Euro empires at the time.

Scandinavia never belonged to any of the European empires -- ever, not just in the Early Modern period. They never spawned an empire of their own either, perhaps with the exception of the sea-borne Viking raiders of the late 1st millennium. Up until two seconds ago, they were not interested in joining NATO, adopting the Euro currency, and other markers of membership in the Western empire.

Nearly simultaneously, Chekhov pioneered the same approach in the Russian empire, in its cultural capital near Moscow, not in the Window to the West of Saint Petersburg. The primary institution through which this development took place was the Moscow Art Theatre, whose founders were both southerners -- actor/director Stanislavski (from Moscow), and Nemirovich-Danchenko (of Ukrainian and Armenian descent, raised in Georgia, moved to Moscow in adulthood). The playwrights whose works they used to develop the realist / modernist approach, were of course the giant Chekhov, but also Gorky and Bulgakov, mentioned earlier.

Somewhat later the same approach arose in the American empire, although now more clearly being an import or influence from Scandinavia and Russia. The big three American playwrights -- O'Neill, Williams, and Miller -- all took this approach. And the American approach to acting was heavily borrowed from Stanislavski's system, although interpreted through Strasberg's own lens. These developments all took place in the culturally backward part of America -- New York -- but as the transition from stage plays to recorded movies took place, and the location of dramatic production shifted from New York to California, Strasberg's "Method" acting from the Actors Studio in New York bore full fruit in the Hollywood studios' output, as Method actors (Brando, De Niro, Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, and so on and so forth) incorporated the approach into the movie format.

Although realism / modernism stripped drama of its verbal ornamental artistry, it thereby opened the door to more stylization in the visual component of the total work. True, the typical American movie does not make extensive use of odd camera angles, 10-minute-long winding single takes, or "how'd they do that" special effects. But stylized production design (including constructing sets), lighting, camera work, shot composition, and practical and special effects are far more common than are their counterparts on the verbal side, where dialog and voice-over narration is almost never done in poetic prose, let alone in verse.

These trends have transformed drama into a format that seamlessly integrates naturalistic dialog and acting, with heavily stylized visual storytelling.

But, although it is the quintessentially American narrative format, it is not uniquely American. In parallel, the Russian empire's approach to movie-making produced similar results, owing to their shared roots in the theatre of realism. I don't know much about Soviet / Russian cinema, so can't comment too much on the fine-grained nature of these similarities, only to say that they both continue the realist approach in the verbal and acting side of the production, while allowing for a potentially heavily stylized visual component.

And the center of Russian cinema has always been Moscow, in the cultural south as expected, mainly through the state film monopoly's studio Mosfilm. The director Tarkovsky was raised in Moscow from age 7. And the director of the epic adaptation of War and Peace, Bondarchuk, followed Chekhov's path -- born and raised even further south (born in Kherson, raised in Taganrog, moved to Moscow to direct movies).

As already mentioned, Bergman pioneered more or less the same approach to drama, as the movie format took hold in Sweden.

These three centers of realist / modernist dramatic gravity are responsible for spreading the approach to the collapsed Western Euro empires, who had previously specialized in the highly verbally stylized approach to drama and/or opera. Sweden was not very politically powerful, so they were not as culturally influential as the two remaining empires. Bergman was influential in his own right, but amplified indirectly through his influence on American filmmakers.

America was responsible for spreading the approach to the new members of NATO, especially Britain, France, and Italy, who had very little native film industries, let alone in the realist manner, before their incorporation into the American sphere of influence after WWII. Germany had a decent film industry before, but it was an outgrowth of the highly stylized approach to stage drama of the 19th C. and earlier. After incorporation into NATO, West Germany abandoned their Expressionist roots (mostly) and adopted the realist approach of their new American imperial overlords.

Spanish cinema didn't really pick up speed until the '80s, when they joined NATO as a very late member -- if they'd joined right after WWII, presumably they would've enjoyed a Spanish New Wave to rival French and Italian by the '60s. Better late than never, though.

On the other side of Europe, Russia through the Warsaw Pact spread the realist / modernist approach to its newly acquired territories from the collapsed Austrian Empire, especially Czechoslovakia and Poland. Even after Stalin died, and New Wave took off, the realist / modernist approach remained -- supplanting the verse / opera approach to drama that had been dominant in these lands not very long ago, before their empires collapsed.

Tellingly, nothing comes to mind for the phrase "cinema of Yugoslavia". That's because it did not belong to NATO (until five seconds ago, and still missing its cultural capital, Belgrade / Serbia), but also did not belong to the Soviet Union or the broader Warsaw Pact. And was not a colony of Sweden. It was a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, and therefore cut off from the goodies that would've flowed from Hollywood or Moscow film studios.

Unlike Sweden, they *were* part of Early Modern empires, the Austrians and Ottomans. Those like the Croatians who were under Austrian control were in no position to challenge the verse / opera approach to drama, and those under Ottoman control could only have challenged the verse / opera approach if their patrons in Constantinople had been pioneering their own independent realist approach to drama. But the Ottomans were not -- too far away from Western Europe to be directly interfacing with it that much, and therefore not really a participant in the verse vs. realism schism in stage drama.

Other major nations in the Non-Aligned Movement also had film industries that never went big beyond their borders, as dominant players in the field. Egypt became a leader in Arabic-language movies, but not beyond the Arabic-speaking world. And Bollywood in India is still synonymous with the verse / opera approach to drama, even in the recorded movie format, unlike virtually all other major film industries. If they had been absorbed into NATO or the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, they would've developed along the realist / modernist lines and gone international in influence.

Japan is the other nation to adopt the realist / modernist approach, no matter how stylized the visual component may be, rather than stick to their verse / opera traditions from previous centuries. But they got absorbed into the American empire after WWII, so they adopted our approach to filmmaking and have become globally renowned for their cinema. The highly stylized verbal component only survives in anime voice acting, and somewhat in Japanese vtuber characters. These are also formats where characters are likely to sing, either lines of dialog or as a purely musical performance.

So yet again, we see that vtubers are the last in the line of the theatrical / operatic approach to live performances, within the American sphere of influence (Bollywood is far more operatic, but Non-Aligned). American vtubers don't come from such a theatrical background -- our cartoons are not as operatic or verbally stylized, their acting styles are similar to live-action movies and TV shows. And so American -- and NATO -- vtubers are likely to follow a realist or naturalistic approach when streaming their personalities (which are not as fictional-character-like as their Japanese counterparts). However, they also have the Disney movies as part of their cultural heritage, and those are fairly verse / opera / musical theatre in their approach, so English-language vtubers who identify with Disney princesses can put on more of a stylized performance if they want (especially Gura).

South Korea shows the same pattern as Japan -- occupied by America since the mid-20th C., absorbing our approach to filmmaking, and becoming globally influential as a result. If they had stuck to whatever verse / opera traditions there were before, they would only be popular in Korea. North Korea has no film industry because we never conquered them, and neither did Russia (or Sweden).

If anything they are a satellite of China, and China was never conquered by America or Russia (or Sweden), and they were too far culturally removed from the Western Euro empires to pick a side in the verse vs. realism schism in drama. And so to this day China has no globally influential film industry, and what little it does it owes to American influence through its NATO member Britain, through its rule over Hong Kong. But that's too many degrees of separation, and Hong Kong cinema is most famous for being acrobatic, slapstick, choreographed, and in other ways that are not very realist or modernist, but would have been at home in earlier centuries of highly stylized stage performances.

Without reviewing the whole rest of the world, the basic point stands: the more closely politically integrated you were with the American or Russian empires, the more you became dominant in the movie format.

* * *

As a final reflection, why did America, Scandinavia, and Russia all independently develop this approach to drama, and cultivate it to mature status as global leaders of the movie format? Because they were not part of the Western Euro empires, who were all rubbing up against each other territorially and therefore culturally. They were in much closer dialog with each other about literature, painting, music, architecture, everything.

America, Russia, and Scandinavia were left out of this club, so why not take a totally different approach to define their cultural identities? Especially in America and Russia, which were intensely Us-conscious empires in urgent need of defining our new selves, after having undergone intense ethnogenesis along a meta-ethnic frontier. Not so much in non-imperial Scandinavia, where there was no intense meta-ethnic frontier requiring a wholly new identity and cultural forms to support and cement it. But nevertheless, requiring some mark of distinction as not belonging to the European empires.

What about the other empires who were also not part of the Western Euro club? The Qing dynasty in China, for example? Well, they weren't interfacing with Western Europe, so they felt no need to distinguish themselves from that particular cultural club. Verse / opera, realism / modernism -- who cares? They weren't consciously competing with nearby empires who had already perfected the operatic approach to drama, so they stuck with verse / opera, which is natural in the performing arts.

That niche felt too full for those on the periphery of the Western Euro empires, so they decided consciously to take a whole 'nother approach. And that is how realism in drama was born, and became the standard in the movies that will be remembered by everyone for centuries (no offense to Bollywood).

Why couldn't some avant-garde of counter-culturalists have spearheaded these new approaches from within those empires that had perfected the stylized approach? Because their cultures had already too much invested in the stylized approach -- the realists would be ruffling way too many feathers, both among the culture-makers themselves as well as their economic patrons and political censors. It's far easier to counteract some trend from outside the system that created it -- like from a whole different nation or empire or sphere of influence.

This is a reminder of how political, military, and territorial dominion can constrain cultural production -- while also allowing it to reach full flower, in a certain direction, as long as it doesn't then totally uproot that flower and try to plant an entirely different species in that same plot of soil. What was the point of cultivating it in the first place?

As the example of Bollywood shows, if any culture-makers are going to conserve or re-introduce the verse / opera approach to drama, even in the age of recorded movies, they will have to do so outside of the American and Russian imperial spheres of influence. In that case, from one of the leading nations of the Non-Aligned Movement -- whose culture now resembles that of their British imperial overlords from the Victorian era, in yet another one of the horseshoe theories of this post (aside from the main one, of American, Scandinavian, and Russian cultural convergence during the Cold War).


  1. To emphasize, this aspect of our identity does *not* have ancient origins, whether genetically or culturally transmitted. Americans don't have genes for realism, nor an ancient / Medieval tradition for it that they're still passing along.

    Murricans, Scandis, and Russkies all constructed this facet of their identity within the past 100-150 years, and deliberately / consciously. It's not the result of a process of blind inheritance and random mutations. It's the active social construction that accompanies ethnogenesis, especially where there's an intense meta-ethnic frontier that heightens the sense of Us vs. Them (where an empire will grow / is already growing).

    And why did only these groups construct this part of their identity in this way? Also due to historical contingency, not genetic or ancient cultural predestination -- they happened to be located on the periphery of West Euro empires that had already made the verse / opera approach to drama a central part of their own ethnogenetic process. There's no British empire without Shakespeare, French empire without Moliere, German empire without Wagner, Austrian empire without Mozart and Salieri, etc.

    Rather than be late-comers to this multi-national competition, the three origins of realism decided to do something totally different.

  2. After the Russian revolution in 1917, the political capital of Russia was moved from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. What are the chances we'll see something similar in the United States in the future, where the political capital of the United States gets moved from Washington D.C. to somewhere further out west?

  3. The Decline and Fall of California:


  4. The Soviets has their own version of Westerns in Siberia called "Osterns":


  5. Gura, no WONDER you checked out, holy shit. So many ideas, plans, etc. of yours thwarted, no new colleagues to be girly with / make new friends, then 8 literal homos get dumped into the audience that doesn't want them.

    Sadly, a sign of an overly bloated corporation that's getting shitloads of free money from the central bank, so that profitability, popularity with a large audience, etc., do not matter. They're getting paid no matter what, and since we're in the late stage of imperial culture, they're in the "burn shit down" phase, rather than build things up.

    Not too different from the other culture industry leaders, like Hollywood movies and TV shows. Maybe it's just the American / EN side that's like this, but that's where you are, unfortch.

    Please remember, and without getting to blasphemous -- YOU ARE VTUBER JESUS. We fell under YOUR spell, we were captivated by YOUR singing voice, by YOUR sense of humor, and by YOUR willingness to bond with us. You, and only you, are our virtual guardian angel (with an earthy sensibility, just like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl).

    We will follow you wherever you go -- YouTube, Twitch, whatever. No matter who your management is, or if you're totally indie. The audience is there for the talent, not the platform, not the company promoting them, or any other entity. And as long as it suits who you are, we don't care what your digital likeness looks like specifically, or what alias you go by, or some lore about your character. As if!

    If the establishment tries to make a martyr out of you, because your talent is like pearls before swine, we have faith that you will be resurrected and live forever in some other way. One way or another, she shall be risen!

    OK, enough blasphemy. You get the idea.

    It will be impossible to hide who you are, in your next incarnation, so we will be there. :)

    Now, the only problem is how to keep the faith alive among your flock, since you can't exactly come out and say what's going on, due to NDAs and whatnot...

    The same goes for any other Holo girls, BTW. Fauna's followers, Mumei's, Ame's, whoever's, will follow them wherever they go. No one has loyalty to a specific company -- imagine we only watched movies made by Fox. Bzzt, wrong, we follow actors, writers, directors, etc.

    If the directors keep giving bad direction and putting out stinkers, they're done for. We will watch actors and directors no matter what studio they're working for, on a particular movie. Or what talent agency represents them in the biz. We're there for them, the talent!

    It's going to be rocky, but we'll all get through this bullshit, together! It'll be our New Year's Resolution. :)

  6. We love you, we appreciate what you have given of yourself for us, we're PROUD of you, we have faith in you, and we will never stop wanting to hang out with you, attend your karaoke cabaret chanteuse serenades, or whatever else we're going to do together. :)

    I was growing afraid you'd gotten burned out on the whole streaming format, or even content creation in general. But something never sat right about that -- you always keep trying to do exciting new things, some small, some big, told us how much you value us, our sense of humor, how we finish your sentences, etc. -- that's not someone who's grown tired of us, or of the activity that connects and bonds us together (streaming / content creation).

    But now with the management's actions speaking louder than words that are prohibited by NDAs, we can finally make sense of your recent checking-out. It wasn't from us, or from the format -- it was from the so-called leaders who shut down your good ideas while permitting garbage from their pet project, scale down funding and support for your side while reallocating to the unworthy side, and neglecting your side while paying way too much attention and hype to the "literally who?" side.

    What bullshit!

    In your next life, you can pursue all those projects you wanted to! Some may turn out well, some may not, but at least you get to give them all a try! That's not a crazy demand -- it's basic!

    But you do need to make sure that you'll have a cool group of girls to interact with, like the chaotic slumber party vibe of the classic SNOT collabs, or goofing around in Minecraft, etc. Now that you're a superstar, though, you have leverage about who you'll be streaming with, assuming you went with another agency. You can see who they already have on board, and you could probably make demands about who else would need to be brought on board if you joined, for you to collab with.

    Obviously if you were indie, that wouldn't be a problem. Which corpo talents would *not* be demanding their boss to let them stream with the reincarnated vtuber Jesus? Probably only those remaining in Hololive, actually.

    Unless some of them are seeing the writing on the wall as well, and thinking of an exit strategy... I'd really hate to see you separated from the biggest Gura fan of all, Faunya. I think followers would migrate, though. She's distinctive, not just a seat-filler, not replaceable. And I don't think they're the ones to insist on loyalty to Hololive above following any one specific talent they employ.

    That part will be harder to tackle than just finding a new place to set up camp -- no one survives alone, they need to belong to a group or tribe. But like I said, somehow, some way, we'll get through it all together! Promise!

  7. Pro wrestling is another highly theatrical, choreographed format from back East, although one that America pioneered and perfected (unlike spoken stage plays, musical theatre, opera, classical music, and ballet). Not known for realism or naturalism in its performances (I mean even the dramatic side of it, not the athletic side).

    There was a core of pro wrestling promoters in the Midwest during the mid-20th C., but the center of gravity shifted to the East Coast, culminating in the WWF (originally Northeastern) and WCW (originally Southeastern) during the explosion in popularity of the '80s and '90s.

    Most of the big talents were from east of the Mississippi River as well, including the biggest of them all, Hulk Hogan (Florida).

    The several specials throughout the year for the WWE (like Wrestlemania) have usually been held in Eastern venues, with almost none on the West Coast, aside from occasionally in L.A. More recently, some in the southern Sun Belt, including Texas and Arizona.

    Before the WWE era, which consolidated the format nationally, the various fiefdoms of the NWA were mostly stopped at the Plains in the western direction. None in the Mountain West, and none in California outside of SoCal. Tons back East, including micro-regions like the St. Louis area, Memphis area, Cleveland / Buffalo area, etc.

    In all ways, the opposite pattern of movies, TV shows, and video games -- because pro wrestling is not in the realist / naturalist mode, and is a better fit with Broadway than Hollywood. Hence the term "blue-collar ballet".

    If it were purely physical, you'd expect to see deep roots in Vegas, like boxing matches, MMA, Cirque du Soleil, etc. But those don't involve storylines, recurring characters, relationships between the characters, character arcs, and other basic features of a narrative format. Highly stylized + narrative = opera, so it belongs to the Eastern part of the country.

    But since it's not part of the realist / naturalist approach to stage drama, and hails from back East, it doesn't rank at the level of Hollywood movies and TV shows for all-American-ness. Most Americans, even if they like it, regard it as a bit hokey or contrived, more so than even a typical show from "the boob tube". Nor is that a class thing -- Americans regard opera and musical theatre, also centered back East, as contrived or overly stylized and ornamental.

    This may differ by region, of course. Easterners certainly hold the elite stylized dramas in much higher regard than Westerners do (and probably Midwesterners in that group as well). But I'll bet they regard pro wrestling more seriously than do Westerners / Midwesterners. Regional differences in TV ratings, pay-per-view purchases per capita, etc., could show whether that's true or not, but I don't know.

  8. Pro wrestling's ringside color commentators perform voiceover narration, and although it's not in verse, it's way more highly stylized and not naturalistic. This is both the opposite of voiceover narration in movies and TV -- more similar to a chorus in Greek drama. Operatic, not movie-like.

  9. Bringing it back to the Goobinator, she did two streams involving pro wrestling games this year. The first was testing it out, and like most girls, spending more time on character customization (playing dress-up with dolls) than on the action.

    But the second was more orchestrated in advance, while still being a live event. It was recreating the pro wrestling concept, within the new vtuber format. She was playing the role of color commentator, with requisite large-framed '70s / '80s tinted glasses, special commentator table for her avatar to sit at, her avatar wearing a mic, and so on. Pretty entertaining stuff, especially considering it's mostly a one-woman operation, not something that a team of writers, cameramen, actors, and directors collaborated on.


    Looking back on it, it really cements her role as a performer in a cyber-opera format, which is what vtubing is (the popular kind, not just "girl with anime avatar does whatever"). She could be a character actress in Hollywood, but not a naturalistic / Method type actress -- she's too suited to these stylized and ornamented performances.

    There is a naturalistic side that comes out, too, when she's just talking about whatever with a video game playing in the background. But she specializes in being a singer, dancer, color commentator for pro wrestling, and the like. She'd be better as a stage actress than a movie actress. Dat dame's really got pizzazz!

    And naturally, she's from back East (southern New England accent and slang).

  10. Actually, that's a similar role to her commenting on the video games she's playing, when it's just her and a game. The reactions to what's going on in the game, providing her own voice-over narration, non-linguistic emotional vocalizations, etc. She's animated and full of color, more operatic than naturalistic. (Contrast that with the naturalistic, subdued expressions of Kronii, from the West Coast.)

    Re-linking this overdose of pixel-pixie pizzazz:


  11. Interesting you mention wrestling as an east coast phenomenon... never really thought of it that way, but yeah, over her wrestling seems more an all ages/classes type thing, not necessarily a working class or 'redneck' thing. There was also ECW, based out of Philly, and TNA, based out of Tennessee (not sure if you consider that "East Coast"). And when you take the most famous wrestlers of all time, most of them were from the east - The Rock (Miami), Triple H (New Hampshire), John Cena (Mass).. probably the biggest exception is Stone Cold (Texas, of course).

  12. Gura! I have an idea to keep the faith alive, engagement ongoing, content flowing, and your fandom well fed and happy, while you're on break! And it wouldn't require any real effort on your part. It's a classic programming choice from the TV medium, which in many ways is what live-streaming has replaced.

    I'll write it up into a full post later! :)

    Just want to let you know that we're all still thinking about you, yearning to stay connected to our oshi, as a united community rather than on our own individual selves, and that we could never be cured of the spell you've put us under. Why would we ever want to?

    But as a brief single suggestion, you could re-broadcast one of your unarchived karaoke performances for Saturday night -- party night! Whether it was public, or members-only. Perhaps one from 2021, which your followers who only learned of the Gospel of Gooba in '22 might not have gotten to enjoy. Hehe.

    Something with a few emotional numbers in it, to really tug at the chumbies' heart-strings like only you can do, *sigh*. There was one from around July 10, 2021 that had "Driver's License" in it. Still one of my all-time faves. :)

    We will always love you and never stop supporting you. And we're proud of all the classic content you've created -- although newer fans might not have watched the back catalog, so... unless... huhaha. ^_^

  13. Mumei's finally comfortable enough to stop being ashamed of being Canadian, and lean into the "I'm really an American" bit, as a thrill-seeking experience -- to press right up against the boundary of admitting it, and seeing if the audience will notice.

    Before, it came from her instinctual paranoid side, to hide something that she thought could be used against her. (In reality, no one cares that she's Canadian. So are Kronii and Ina, just within Hololive -- Pokimane, xqc, etc. outside of it, as well.)

    Now, it's more like she's willing to 90% reveal her secret, and check the audience's reaction to see if they noticed her reveal or not. Will she get caught in public, or won't she? Tee hee, she's such a naughty little girl. Underneath everyone raised in a Puritanical culture is an exhibitionist waiting to get out -- just not in a thottie kind of way.

    At first, I was getting a little annoyed, like "Oh here we go again -- Moom, you're good at Geoguesser, and all of a sudden you have a negative 100 IQ when it's about Canada? You really don't have any background knowledge to speculate about your location? And yet you somehow know the names of provinces that Americans never would, like the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and that fake new one from the '90s, Nunavut?"

    (Also, as an aside: no American would ever say that some place "reminds me of Maine" -- no American ever visits Maine, Detroit MI, Buffalo NY, or literally any place on the Canadian border. Only the Canadian neighbors do. If an American wanted to say some place reminded them of New England or rural New England specifically, they would say "New England" or "New Hampshire" or "Vermont" or maybe "Western Massachusetts" -- "Maine" is not some iconic location in the American mind. Even the tourists in Maine only visit the coastline, in Portland or Augusta, not the woodsy part.)

    But then she really started to lay it on thick, like pretending to be retarded about pronouncing Nova Scotia and New Foundland. An American would just say, "How do you pronounce that? [Answer received] Ah, got it." She drew out that bit for like 5 minutes, pronouncing it 17 ways, like she really had no idea! xD

    "Heheh, let's see if the clueless Americans buy my act, maybe they'll never know my deep dark secret, which I'm actually revealing 90% right under their noses -- tee hee, I'm so naughty, uwu!"

    It's like you're flashing us, but for your nationality rather than your undies. "Gosh, do they really not see what I'm doing? What a thrill, to flash them and totally get away with it..."

    OK, I can respect the bit now, Mooms. ^_^ Anything that helps you come out of your shell.

    Also, I was right about the Buffalo mention putting your upbringing in that general area. You were left in a speechless panic for like 15 minutes straight when the first place they gave you was in southern Ontario! huhaha

    (And again, for the record, that does not point to where she is now, young people especially in tech-related jobs zig and zag all over the map during their 20s and 30s. She could be streaming from Mars for all we know -- but we can tell where she was raised.)

  14. So I take back my earlier call to just admit it. If you were still paranoid and fearful about it, I'd say admit it, just to get it off your chest and no longer suffer the anxiety about it.

    But you've clearly moved on to a new way of dealing with it emotionally, where you're leaning into the "Canadian pretending not to be Canadian" act as an entertaining bit, a thrill-seeking exhibitionist performance. It's indulging your mischievous "will I get caught revealing myself or won't I" uwu gremlin side, so now I wholeheartedly approve. ^_^

    Your thrill-seeking tension was palpable tonight -- naturally, since you were winging it, while walking a tightrope! The pacing of your speech, hearing the wheels spinning like crazy in your mind... I could almost feel the warmth of your breath while you're pausing, mouth open, not sure of exactly what to say, while you come up with an ad lib.

    Like you were sneaking up right behind the audience, getting ready to tickle-attack our sides. Tip-toe-ing just so, trying not to breathe too hard, heart pounding out of your chest.

    Wonderful moment of purely physical acting. Some autistic fans might not have picked up on it, but I notice when cute naughty girls are flashing the audience just enough to maintain plausible deniability. Enough to change my mind on whether or not you should openly admit your nationality!

    And to reiterate, none of this came off as thottie or sexual or weird like that. Pressing up against a boundary, hovering your hand right over the other side, pulling it back, then over the edge again, heart pounding like crazy to see if you get caught -- that can happen in all sorts of situations.

    Like shoplifting, to give another not-even-remotely-sexual example that girls love to do. Did anyone just see you slip that thing into your pocket? No? Yes? Maybe? We'll just have to wait and see, while your heart pounds out of your chest. Is anyone actually going to stop you as you approach the door to leave? Maybe you'll just hang out around there first, so in case they do, you can say you haven't left yet and whoopsie it slipped your mind, of course you're going to pay for it. But then no one does approach you, so you flirt with the exit for a couple rounds, and then suddenly you're outta there! No one following you either? Nope! What an exhilarating rush, right?!

    That's why I love the girly girl streamers -- they can convey these experiences in such palpable, vivid reality, despite it being an online stream from behind an anime avatar, and they don't have to do it by reducing it to "sex sells" tactics. Girls get that dopamine rush from all sorts of naughty acting-out behavior that could get them caught in public, and only some of it is sexual (the most boring and predictable type, although OK in small infrequent doses).

    It's so refreshing to watch Mumei, Irys, Fauna, and the ringleader of this activity, the Goobinator, to see the whole broad spectrum of this kind of naughty-girl thrill-seeking behavior, whereas the typical e-girl with a webcam would just make it about literally flashing her panties by lifting her foot onto her chair seat while wearing a skirt and saying "whoopsie". That's so one-dimensional -- ironically, it's the 2D anime avatars hosting a masquerade ball who are the most fully fleshed out, real personalities!

    (I remembered another thing from tonight: when you were shocked at a gas station sign reading over $3 -- totally normal here in America, where we measure things properly, like gas by the gallon. But that *would* shock a Canadian, since you guys measure it in liters, and $3 a liter would be $12 a gallon! But then you must've caught yourself and ended that line of thought. An American would not have let that go -- $12-15 a gallon would really set them off on a research project to figure out where, and why.)

  15. And for context, it was Mooms herself who chose to do Canada on Geoguesser, it didn't randomly surprise her during a global game. She could've easily stuck to America, or global, and not even bring up the thought in the audience's mind of "Mumei" and "Canada" at the same time.

    But she did so, knowing it would be a winging-it tightrope act, full of exhilaration and tension, seeing how close she could tiptoe up behind the audience without them knowing. That's the real version of stealth video games aimed at the girl gamer market. (Is there already a shoplifting simulator for girls, maybe as part of a Sims game? There should be!)

    Love it when the Holo girls are feeling sneaky and cheeky.

    Oh nyo, pwease don't sneak up behind me to tickle-attack my sides, while I pretend not to feel the warning signs of warm breath on the back of my neck, and a slight draft from long girly hair that you can't stop from waving as you hover right at my back... anything but *that*. ^_^

  16. Are boob girls more into make-up than butt girls are? Irys spoke for awhile on her stream about not feeling as girly as Fauna and Bae when they met up, because they were more into make-up. Mumei also goes more au naturel for the face.

    Gura also shared a story sometime about not doing her make-up hardly ever, and the one time she tried, mama shark couldn't contain her laughter. Awwww.

    I seem to remember Calli having lots of make-up related products in that "what's in my bag" stream that included a whole bunch of the girls, way back when, hosted by I can't remember who.

    That lines up pretty well with boob girls vs. butt girls. Again, I don't mean the absolute size, so much as which area their body has invested more into. And I'm not interested for sexualizing reasons, but for these questions about their broader different natures. They're really like yin and yang in a whole bunch of ways that seemingly have nothing to do with boobs and butts per se (like being cerebral or corporeal, verbal or visual, and so on).

    Butt girls can be really into clothing and fashion, but somehow they're not really excited for make-up. Irys also said she rarely does anything intricate with her hair (sometimes just brushing it and putting on a hat), and I seem to remember Mooms saying something like that too at one point. Whereas Irys told us how Fauna was putting her hair into braids. I don't know, this one may be a weaker correlation than the make-up one, but worth looking into.

    I think it has to do with butt people being the more ancestral / ancient / primitive form of human beings, and they like being natural. So less emphasis on make-up or intricate hairstyles. Boob people only emerged during the 1st millennium BC, so they're more inclined towards things that naturalists would call "artificial," but the post-agricultural boob people would say are just modern creature comforts or whatever.

    As a buttman, I certainly enjoy when girls are more au naturel in the face -- just a cleanser, and/or toner, and some moisturizer. I really don't like matte make-up, which hides the texture of natural skin. There's just something about the natural look, at least for us butt people!

    I think make-up is OK for ritualistic occasions, like prom, or a wedding, or an initiation (like in a tribal society), or war-paint during a pep rally before going off to war. But for everyday cosmetic / beauty purposes, the closer to natural, the better!

    Thinking back on all the dancer friends I had in the late 2000s, they rarely wore make-up during their ordinary daily lives. Only when they had a performance, and not always then either. (All butt girls, naturally.)

    The scene girls of that same era were HUGE on make-up, though, and of course on their extravagant hairstyles. And 99% of them were boob girls. Pretty sure the same is true for goths, who also are big on make-up and hair -- the standard phrase is "fat tiddy goth gf", not "fat booty goth gf".

    Anyway, I don't think Irys or the other butt girls are "less girly" for not doing much in the make-up and hair department -- it's just a different kind of girly. Au naturel femininity. :)

  17. To complete the argument, clothing feels artificial no matter what kind it is. So butt people / naturalists don't find it any *more* artificial to put effort into choice of clothing. This style, that style, lots of effort, zero effort -- it's all artificial, something we have to do as of the 1st millennium BC.

    Fashion doesn't go against the inclination toward au naturel.

    But make-up and done-up hairstyles is not a social requirement as of the 1st millennium BC, or any more recent time. So that does feel more artificial, to people who prefer going au naturel.

    That's why attention to clothing doesn't show up in the boob people vs. butt people divide, but make-up and maybe hair does.

  18. AOC, the argumentative nerdy buxom make-up maximalist, vs. Tulsi Gabbard, the chill-vibes surfer bootylicious make-up minimalist.

  19. First spotting of a booba-ful girl with no bra on. Return of the rising-crime culture of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, now that the crime wave has kicked off as of 2020? Looks like it -- of course, it'll still be decades until we reach '70s / '80s levels of not wearing a bra in public, but it's starting now. It's been so long I literally cannot remember that last time I saw a girl with no bra on like that.

    She was working the cash register at the thrift store tonight, looked to be early-mid 20s, long-sleeve thin sweater -- but no bra to hold back her C or D or DD cups. I'm not a boob man, I have no clue exactly how big they were, but big enough for even me to notice -- nipples visible from at least 15 feet away, before it was my turn to get checked out.

    But also thanks to not being a boob man, I didn't stare down at them while we were chatting and flirting as she checked out my stuff. "Oh Jaws? I haven't even seen Jaws yet!" Yeah, it's a classic... "Oh my God, I would be to scared -- I'd only watch it, like, with somebody else." I refrained from following up on that thinly veiled pick-up line, but kept flirting with her in other ways.

    She said she thinks the way that new movies look is too "try-hard," and she's sure Jaws looks better (they are, and it does). Yet another example of ojisans not having to worry about being out of touch with what the kids these days are into, will there be cultural incompatability with a younger girl, etc. -- no there will not, because their generation has very little new and distinctive, and they're aware of it, so they're all into older stuff anyway. Plus even I can refer to Jaws as "a movie that came out before I was even born" (or my parents were married).

    But back to the earlier point, she was wearing make-up! And in a matte look, too. No fancy hairstyle, though. Center part -- Zoomer for sure. I really do think boob girls are more into make-up than butt girls (she didn't have a flat butt, BTW, just more buxom than apple-bottomed).

    I really appreciate the au naturel look, not because I like the way boobs look (I'm generally blind to them), but because it establishes an overall air of naturalness, laid-back, taking things easy, and not neurotically sexualizing things that are not very sexual (like boobs -- only meant to nurse infants, not for adolescent or adult guys to think about sticking their dick in between, like perverts, or to think about sucking on while saying "mommy milkies" like a damn toddler).

    I would've still been surprised if she were an A-cup, but to see a top-heavy girl wearing a tight sweater and no bra was a total shock. I'm still in shock, hours later. Is the natural lifestyle coming back FINALLY???!?!?!!!

    And to think that her boss didn't make her put on a bra, borrow one from the thrift store inventory, or send her home or whatever. Every stores is infamously understaffed these days, I'll bet she gave them an ultimatum -- "Either I let my girls loose, or *you* can let *me* loose". Good for her!

  20. There's only one girl who I'm going to watch Jaws along with. ^_^ And you can too!



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