Did The Gap Put Celebrities at Risk?

An Open Web Letter to The Gap

To Whom it May Concern:

I have been a long time fan of not only The Gap's clothes, but its television advertisements as well. However, every time I see the recent Down on Khaki Street advertisement, I cringe.

Without a doubt, Zooey Deschanel is slightly attractive, but what bothers me is the danger that the stars went through. Four of today's up and coming megastars (including the guy from Dude, Where's My Car?), riding as fast as they can on flimsy bikes down a steeply sloped street. Anyone who's ever ridden a bicycle knows how dangerous they can be, and not just from cars and pedestrians.

These stars were exposed to dangers such as rocks, oil, and mud in the roadway. How many times did they have to peddle their bikes down the street? All it would take is a little exhaustion, and any one or all of them could have easily done an "endo" (gone over the handlebars).

One minor mishap could have easily turned this into a Nightmare on Khaki Street. What precautions (if any) were in place to protect these stars?

I hope at the least that The Gap spent the few minutes it would have taken to remove rocks and other foreign materials from the street. However, and this is the crux of my concern, is that all that was done, or were special measures in place to safeguard these precious celebrities?

For instance, did The Gap create a special "stunt" street out of thick carpet?

Did they steam clean the roadway?

Perhaps, there was a special foam sprayer attached to the camera, which would spray the entire street with foam immediately upon any signs of danger.

Those are just the most basic precautions which should have been taken. In addition to those, allow me to suggest the following:

  • Attach two sets of large training wheels on each bike. These would have virtually guaranteed that the bikes would not have tipped over, and any sight of the training wheels could be removed frame-by-frame in post production.

  • Large grooves cut in the roadway would contain a metal track similar to tracks used by monorails. Special bikes would be created to run in the track. See Diagram 1 (below). You will note that the bike's rim fits around the track; this will prevent the bike from tipping over. Of course, at the start and end of the track, the track would be open, thus allowing the bike to be fitted into the track. Whether the connection is metal/metal, or rubber/rubber is an implementation choice, as is whether the bikes would be powered by their rider or by some form of mechanical or electrical propulsion. This solves the problem of the bike tipping over; the problem of the celebrities being thrown from the bike would be solved by tethering each celebrity (gently!) to their bike.

    This setup would virtually guarantee the safety of the celebrities, at the minor cost of tearing up a downtown L.A. street. What price the well-being of our most favorite entertainers?

    Diagram 1.

  • Several assistants running in front of the celebrities, but outside of camera range. They would immediately jump in at the first sign of danger, taking a blow to the pavement if necessary to avoid the celebrities getting hurt.

  • The truck that carried the camera could have also towed a large foam pad, similar to that used by circus performers. At the first sign of danger, the truck would immediately come to a halt, and, by simple laws of physics, the celebrity would fall into the pad, safe and sound.

  • Special celebrity harnesses could be constructed. Wires would run from these harnesses up to a solid metal beam, which would follow above the celebrites down the street, out of camera range. A special track would be installed in the highrises on either side of the street to hold the beam. In this case, the celebrities would also be completely safe; if a mishap occurred, the wires would hold them safely suspended above the pavement.
Sidebar: Multiple Takes and Exhaustion

After having viewed the commercial several times, the problem of exhaustion seems to, much as an onion, have multiple layers. In addition to the concerns expressed elsewhere, I have lately given thought to the problems of exhaustion vis-a-vis multiple takes.

What exactly did the director do after each take? Did he say, "sorry, that take wasn't exactly what I wanted, please ride back up the hill and do it again?" I certainly hope not.

Thus, the question naturally arises, how did the celebrities get back to the starting point after each take? I believe I have a solution that would be both safe and humane.

There are many other precautions that I, had I been the director, would have taken. I fear, unless my advice is heeded, that The Gap is playing with fire and putting our beloved stars at risk.

Yours Sincerely,


Chris Kelly

P.S. I think you should auction the celebrities' bikes (or parts thereof) on eBay for charity.

P.P.S. Please do not deride this as yet another "Letter from a Nut." (See Going Postal: A Sociological Interpretation of Ted L. Nancy’s Letters from a Nut and Other Adventures in Epistolary Mischief-Making ). I am writing this letter from my own perspective; I am not posing as someone with obscure and absurd needs or wants. I am simply applying sound scientific principles, and conducting an Einsteinian thought experiment, to help solve what I perceive as a very real problem.