Chris Snowdon on a lawsuit against various Hollywood studios for showing smoking scenes in movies:
During the period 2012 through the present, defendants’ film rating system – certified and rated thousands of films featuring tobacco imagery as suitable and appropriate for children under the age of seventeen without a parent or guardian, causing over 1.1 million children under the age of seventeen to become addicted to nicotine and will cause the eventual premature death of 360,000 of such nicotine addicts from tobacco caused diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema.
It’s well known that if children under the age of seventeen catch sight of tobacco imagery in any movie, they will become addicted to nicotine.
However, in movies such images are usually transient, lasting a few seconds or less. The same is not the case with still images, such as photographs and paintings. And if a party of unsupervised schoolchildren look closely at such images, they are bound to notice any persistent tobacco imagery present in them – which makes still images far more addiction-inducing than any movie.
An example of such a painting is Vincent van Gogh’s Chair with Tobacco and Pipe, held in London’s National Gallery (click on image to enlarge):
In an appreciation of this painting, the subject matter is made perfectly explicit:
The pipe, handkerchief and tobacco give a focus to the picture in both narrative and pictoral terms, providing a note of neutral white at the center of the interplay of cool and warm hues. The use of blue to outline the parts of the chair increases the sense of cool draftsmanship restraining the sensuous handling of the painting.
The painting is occasionally accompanied by another separate painting of Gauguin’s chair, strewn with innocuous candles and books.
Clearly van Gogh’s chair should normally be kept behind shutters or curtains (complete with No Smoking signs and attendants) to prevent under-age children from seeing the tobacco and pipe, and becoming addicted.
But another possibility, which would obviate the need for expensive curtains or attendants, would be a minor over-painting of the chair to remove the tobacco and pipe, and replace them with some other more suitable focus of attention. But what?
…Vincent painted the work before mutilating his ear, but continued to refine it after he was hospitalized. In one of his first letters to his brother, Theo, after being admitted to the hospital to recover from his self-inflicted injury, Van Gogh wrote: “I have just been working again today on its [Gauguin’s Armchair] pendant, my own empty chair, a white deal chair with a pipe and a tobacco pouch.”
So one fully authentic refinement might be to replace the tobacco with a bloody ear on a handkerchief, and modify the pipe very slightly to become, say, a large snail feeding upon it, painted in the sensuous manner of Vincent van Gogh (click on image to enlarge):
Chair with Snail Eating Ear would be a far more wholesome, tobacco-free picture, on which schoolchildren could gaze unsupervised for as long as desired, without any fear of consequent addiction.
We should now look forward to London’s National Gallery hiring a competent artist for an hour or two to make the necessary changes.