The best way to put something in perspective might simply be to poke fun at it.
An anonymous French blogger has decided to take on the gluten-free movement by stripping any and all traces of the protein, along with any foods that contain it, from famous works of art, illustrations, movie scenes, and posters. The project, titled Gluten Free Museum, currently consists of 20 pieces, each of which juxtaposes the image before and after the gluten was removed.
The Photoshopped stills include a scene from Disney's Lady and the Tramp, stripped, of course, of its famous plate of spaghetti and meatballs. (These images, like the others, are embedded from the Gluten Free Museum's tumblr page.)
Also Robert Doisneau's timeless shot of Pablo Picasso, but without part of the frame's essence: Picasso's eerie gluten-ous hands.
They spare neither pop culture.
Nor classic art.
Vincent van Gogh's Siesta gets its alteration too.
Gluten, one of the most popular proteins on this planet, is also increasingly one of the most hated. Here in the United States, the gluten-free movement, which has been driven not only by an actual need among celiacs to avoid the food but also a widespread belief that letting bread, beer, pasta, and all other foods with gluten go means living healthier for almost anyone, is so pervasive that it might as well be a fact of American life. Some 20 million in this country claim that eating it causes them distress, according to The New Yorker. Another 100 million people, meanwhile, say that they are actively working to eliminate gluten from their diets.
And yet, amid the rise of the villainization of gluten, is a growing sense that something about the movement seems a bit off. The New Yorker's Michael Specter's recent deep dive into the fad brought to surface a number of legitimate gripes, including the lack of scientific evidence supporting the belief that going gluten-free is better for one's health.
"How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening?" Specter asks.
Wheat, which contains gluten, is one of the cheapest foods known to man. It's also one of the most essential: it currently provides an estimated one-fifth of the calories people around the globe consume. Going gluten-free might make one feel better, but it's a luxury not everyone can afford.
The many questions that shroud the movement make it all the more ripe for parody. There is something, however, particularly amusing about the way Gluten Free Museum goes about poking fun.
There is a subtle brilliance in removing all traces of gluten from an experience as subjective as art. The removal of gluten from the pieces is an arbitrary stroke, much as one might argue removing gluten from one's diet is. The mood, composition, and feel of each frame, also changes drastically with the subtraction of gluten because, as the project reveals, gluten is ubiquitous, even in paintings, posters, and picture frames. And, though many if not all of the images lose part of their essence when stripped of gluten, the reality is that some people might even find them more palatable. And who is to say that they're wrong?