Just Do It

An amusing excerpt from Victor Pelevin’s 1999 novel “Homo Zapiens,” the following is a description of a shoe commercial pitched for Nike’s Moscow office by one of the characters in the book:

A street in a small Vietnamese village lost deep in the jungle.  In the foreground is a typical third-world country Nike workshop – we recognize it from the sign: NIKE sweatshop #1567903.  All around there are tall tropical trees, a section of railway line suspended on the village fence rings like a bell.  Standing in the doorway of the workshop is a Vietnamese with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, wearing khaki trousers and a black shirt.  Close-up: hands on an automatic rifle.  The camera enters the door and we see two rows of work-tables with workers who are chained in place sitting at them.  All of the workers are wearing incredibly old, torn and tattered American military uniforms.  They are the last American prisoners of war.  On the table in front of them there are Nike sneakers in various stages of completion.  The prisoners of war are dissatisfied with something – at first they murmur quietly, then they start banging on the tables with the half-glued sneakers.  There are shouts of: ‘We demand a meeting with the American consul!’ and, ‘We demand a visit from the UN commissioner!’  Suddenly a burst of automatic rounds is fired into the ceiling, and the noise instantly ceases.  The Vietnamese in the black shirt is standing in the doorway, with a smoking automatic in his hands.  The eyes of everyone in the room are fixed on him.  The Vietnamese strokes his automatic rifle, then jabs his finger in the direction of the nearest table with half-finished sneakers, and says in broken English: ‘JUST DO IT!’

Voice-over: ‘Nike. Good 2. Evil 0’

28 pages later another character comes up with a potential counter-campaign for rival shoe-maker Reebok, reflecting the zeitgeist of late 90s post-Soviet Russia:

Do it yourself, motherfucker    -Reebok

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