The RBK Commercial for the End of the World, by, one assumes, Reebok, and also a heap of advertising personnel desperately in need of controlled substances.
My first rec is - not for a fanwork. Sorry! But this thing should inspire all the fanworks, is my feeling. This is a commercial featuring Sidney Crosby. And it is amazing. I found it in this Sidney Crosby mostly videospam, which I found via sociofemme's awesome Primer of Hockey Primers. And it is simultaneously the best and the worst thing ever.
I cannot watch most non-game video footage of Sidney Crosby, particularly anything staged, because I have an embarrassment squick and, well, let's just say Sidney Crosby attempting to be anything other than who he is (hockey-playing robot without a personality module) hits my squick hard enough to make me duck and cover. (If you want to see why, check out those other videos in the videospam, oh my god.)
But this particular commercial appears to be the product of a brainstorming session that went like this:
Advertising Person 1: Okay, people, we have to do a commercial featuring Sidney Crosby.
Advertising Person 2: The hockey-playing robot? Oh, fuck.
Advertising Person 3: He has no charisma.
AP1: I know.
AP2: And any time he tries to act like he has a personality, he lands squarely in the uncanny valley.
AP1: I know.
AP3: Focus groups routinely end up recoiling or sleeping when they watch him.
AP1: I know. But we're making the commercial anyway, so we've got to figure something out. Give me your best ideas, people.
[Long, pained pause in which no one at the table makes eye contact with anyone else.]
Advertising Person 4: ...I guess, if we've got to make a commercial featuring a boring guy who does absolutely nothing except play hockey, we could hang a lampshade on that.
AP1: Good enough. Let's do it.
And they did. The result is a commercial so depressing that it actually crosses back over into unintentionally hilarious.
The commercial is filmed in a grim palette and is mostly devoid of people. In a voiceover without emotion and almost without inflection, Sidney Crosby says, "This was my prom"; the accompanying shot is an empty, iceless hockey rink. "My spring break," he continues, over a shot of what I think is a deserted roller hockey court. "My road trip with friends": a mural of ice hockey players in an empty arena. "Summer camp": a dark hallway with a single bright doorway, perhaps representing the way out of this unspeakable awfulness. The way Sid did not take. "Semester abroad:" a Zamboni machine works in a deserted rink, and you get the distinct feeling it is not just smoothing the ice but flattening Crosby's soul. "Thanksgiving": we see an empty chair overlooking the Zamboni of Wretchedness. There are further two shots, one of a dim, grimy hallway with red doors, such as you might see in hell, and one of an iceless hockey rink with an abandoned stick and a rolling plastic cup that is red, probably to represent Sid's empty, unwanted heart. "What do you call a life dedicated to hockey?" Sid asks. The camera cuts to Sid sitting on the bench during a hockey game, watching intently, yearning to rejoin the action so he can almost feel alive again. There's a shot of his skates. Someone says "Go go go" and he goes over the boards to join the game. Sid says, "I call it time well spent." The words "I am what I am" appear on the screen. The viewer is filled with a profound sense of dislocation and despair, followed by an almost uncontrollable desire to write fiction in which Crosby gets fucked in the ass and loves it.
When Best Beloved and I watched this commercial, we died. And then we spent the rest of the evening randomly walking up to each other and saying things like, "All my Christmas presents!" and "Grandpa's funeral!" and "My first kiss!" and "My puppy!" The underlying message of this commercial appears to be: If you can still be happy or have fun, you aren't dedicated enough. (It is also the world's best argument for slavefic. Which - normally slavefic is not my particular narrative kink, but Sidney Crosby as a hockey slave makes so much sense that I am currently writing a Just the Good Parts version of it. Watch this commercial and tell me you don't see it. You can't. You can't.)
Seriously. Watch this. It is thirty seconds extremely well spent, even if you know absolutely fuck-all about hockey and care even less.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.