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« Trying Not to Write About September 11th | Main | Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose »

September 14, 2006


Danny, once again your outrage is well placed and beautifully expressed.

But: is it really you? Or is it Fred Astaire, made manifest by yet some other ominous technology...?

Your ideas are brilliant, and the prose with which you express them absolutely wonderful.

I really loved "Goodnight, and Good Luck" for the way in which it recreated a time period, locales, and their atmosphere.

I hate commercials that "resurrect" dead stars.

Danny, I completely agree with everything you said. I still couldn't stop laughing at the utter crassness of the whole thing, especially at the Gap's creative director's statement. Are people so insular that they think people enjoy seeing their icons manipulated for profit. My only conclusion is that I bet they know it is rather crass, but as long as it is "memorable," that's all that really counts. I had never even heard of Dirt Devil before I saw Fred Astaire dancing with one on TV. So, maybe the creatives know something we don't.

I saw the commericial last night and couldn't believe my eyes. And the family will tell you this is a way for a whole new generation to get to know Audrey...blech. I hate the whole idea too, but Neil is right...the bottom line is, you remember the product, and I have no doubt sales go up. Love the title of your post, Danny.

Sorry, Danny, but on this one, we part ways. You see, by raging against the Gap, you've attacked one of my former employers. (See "I Was a 60-Something Gap Girl," which is on my web page, which you can get to from a link on my blog.) Also, what are you and I doing when we use photos from our own past on our blogs -- mostly without permission from former classmates or friends? It's all chutzpah. Finally, I've learned that some change is inevitable and despite writing a memoir about the old days, I don't long for them.
I still love you, though.

I admire your loyalty, Elaine. And perhaps I should have mentioned that while I know some people who boycott the Gap for other reasons, when I wrote that post I was dressed in Gap clothes from head to toe! (No skinny black pants, though...)

I shudder to think of the day that I mention Audrey Hepburn, only to have someone ask, "Oh, the girl in the Gap commercials?"

I have to assume that the Gap secured the rights to Ms. Hepburn's glorious image and I don't want to pass judgment on her family members who I assume held those rights. But even though the commercial is a technical marvel and fascinating to watch (you can find it on YouTube), it begs the question, "Just because something is possible to do, does that mean we should do it?"

You have misused the phrase "begs the question." If I ask you about apples and you answer about oranges, you have begged the question.

The way you have misused this phrase was popularized in the summer of 2005 by newscasters trying to appear erudite.

Try googling "begs the question" and Safire to find his excellent article about this phrase.

Hey, the science is there, and we can use it for good...or for evil.

While I always enjoy the ravings of the language-obsessed Safire, he'll never win this battle. The use of "begs the question" to mean "invites the question" was popularized LONG before the summer of 2005 and it is so widespread that I believe it surpasses the original arcane usage. But thanks for the correction...

I saw the Gap commercial last night during "Survivor" and was just as flabbergasted as you, not only because of the horrid inappropriateness of the juxtaposition of the great humanitarian with a mass market clothing line but also by the creepy digital editing. It took me a moment to understand what I was looking at.

My kids are huge Audrey Hepburn fans, and even they were confused by the disconnect, and they are supposedly the target market for Gap ads.

I don't care for the ad, although a lot of people seem to love it. And while I don't think Audrey Hepburn would have shopped at the Gap, I suspect she would not have begrudged it a place in the spectrum of fashion.

However, it's worth point out that The Devil in the White City is not historical fiction. It's compelling not just because the writing is so strong, but because it is true.

Dear None or Trying-To-Be-A-Little-SmartyPants as I shall now refer to you, May I humbly suggest you start looking at the content of life (and my husband's brilliant blog) instead of just trying to gather ye faults where ye may.

Hmm, I too was puzzled by the ad...Refreshing to see her again after all these years, and that was her youthful body too ...but upset for other reasons as well. As a mother dealing with the effects of anorexia, seeing another ad with an anorexic, ultra thin body does not bode well for the health of unknown young girls who may indeed become affected by such ads. Then I know Audrey Hepburn's a young girl in war torn Europe ...could she remember anything other than a starved childhood....and remained that way through her life to keep such a body, & the familar comfort of hunger of her youth.
I thought to myself, gee I've got old leggings somewhere in the attic, get them out..
but Don't Buy Gap..perhaps mind the gap but don't fall into their trap!

Kate, I know that "The Devil in the White City" is based on real (and horrific) events but almost all of the actual scenes and dialogue came from author Erik Larson's head, it is fiction. Did you hear they're making a movie version of it to be directed by Kathryn Bigelow? Tom Cruise is supposed to star, I assume as H.H. Holmes, the serial killer.

I really object to the appropriation of people's images like this. I think it is highly unethical. I even have a hard time with 'bio-pics' that claim to tell a person's life story and are released while the subject is still alive.

Danny..I am still shocked by the inappropriate horribleness of this GAP Ad....Truthfully? I was so taken-a-back when I first saw this that I didn't know what it was for....And is it just me? OR, is the voice track almost like it might be an actress imitating Miss Hepburn....OY OY OY!

Okay. You want to see something real?

Come on by my blog.

I've posted some of my paintings and would love for you and Kendall to take a peek at them.

Back To Audrey Hepburn: I pray that her family decided to do this so that the money being paid to the Estate goes or went to UNICEF!

I saw the ad for the first time last night and I have to say it was a weird feeling. I am sure that I am the biggest Audrey Hepburn fan who ever walked this earth ... but this was weird. Especially because they use her for the "skinny" piece.

Finally, *some* people (at: )are thinking twice about skinny being good!

Gap is not part of that group!


I love your response to "none". I am currently taking a linguistics class. One of the main points the teacher makes is that language is always fluid and changing. We need to go with the flow of change, not try and stifle it. I love your blog, even though I am a little behind in reading it.

I'm still reeling from when they took Janis Jopin and put her song on a Mercedez Benz commercial :(

Danny, I know this isn't what your post is about, but Devil in the White City is an example of narrative history, not nonfiction. Not all historians utilize that method of interpretation, but it is accepted within the scholarly field and is used by prominent historians (John Demos, for example).

But I know that's a different topic, so I'll stop now.

Goodness, you're hilarious.

"I would fully support the digital replacement of bored-out-of-his-mind Leslie Howard in “Gone With the Wind”"

Ha! He does look a bit annoyed...

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