The Cartoonist's Role

http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s1317984.htm
Exert from Media Watch:

Michael Leunig comments to Media Watch:

The role of the cartoonist, as well as making us laugh at our shared predicament, is to discover and express what is repressed, and to say out loud what people everywhere are whispering. 

The cartoonist is a voice of the permanent opposition and uses metaphor and surreptitious, ambiguous images or words to challenge society's values, to test freedom of speech to the limit, to subvert the pomposity of authority or popular opinion and to make absurdity and hypocrisy visible.


This voice is not an expert or corporate voice - it is quite distinctly and necessarily the original, unique and peculiar voice of the individual human, or the lone soul, and it speaks to the heart as well as the head. 

Cartoons do not necessarily sum up a situation nor are they always intended to be balanced; often they are made as extreme provocations or catalysts to help breach repressive taboos or break the stifling silence of conservatism and respectability. 

Sometimes they need to be in bad taste. 

The cartoonist is not interested in showing that the enemy is in league with the devil but rather the extent to which a bit of the devil is in all of us. 

This sometimes seems traitorous. However, a cartoonist who supports government policy and current, conventional wisdom is nothing more than a propagandist. 

The true cartoonist is a moral philosopher who compulsively and dutifully challenges and resists the powerful, the victorious, the dominant, the fashionable, the well heeled, the well established and the well armed; and in so doing, upholds the importance of the powerless, the vulnerable, the voiceless outsiders, of nature and many improbable or neglected ideas. 

A good healthy cartoon is drawn from conscience and must be strong, spicy and controversial; it will often hurt, offend, disgust and cause trouble because it may touch upon negative matters such as human darkness or the neurotic defences, psychological wounds and sore points and emotional sicknesses in society. 

It holds up a mirror to us which is sometimes funny , sometimes painful and often quite perplexing but the hope is that ultimately it is therapeutic.

 In January this year SJ had a life changing experience at the State Library of Queensland. An exhibition of the Best Political Cartoons of 2009 revealed to him an ambition that had never been recognized. From that day SJ has strived to do a cartoon everyday.

These cartoons naive and childish in appearance are visual comments on current affairs covered in the media. These words by Michael Luenig describe the core of SJ's charge.

Comments