Carla La Tella


Wed, 29 Sep, 2021

Leunig cartoon divides the internet

Leunig cartoon divides the internet

Image: Instagram

Cartoonist Michael Leunig has once again divided fans after posting an image comparing resistance to mandatory vaccination as being similar to the fight for democracy in Tiananmen Square.

In an image posted to his Instagram account, Leunig drew a lone protester standing in front of a loaded syringe, mimicking the iconic “tank man” image of protest in China. An inset of the 1989 photo also appears in Leunig’s drawing.

The cartoon divided fans on his Instagram page, with some applauding it as “brilliant’ and “spot on” while others describe it as “pretty bad taste” and a “disgusting comparison”.

“Really? Comparing a vaccination to Tiananmen Square massacre? This undermines every other piece of art you have made that comments on humanity and social justice. Incredily disappointing,” one person wrote.

Author Kerri Sackville posted: “Ugh. I used to idolise you”.

Another user wrote: “Wow. This a disgusting take that mocks the bravery of the Tiananmen protesters. Absolutely ridiculous, illogical, immoral, and disgusting.”

While another asked: “Do you really relate to this level of oppression over a single vaccine in a time of a pandemic? It’s not the same.”

Another fan questioned the message the work would send.

“I usually love your work and admire the way you question social/norms and assumptions. This piece however, feels pretty ill-considered during this critical time. Please think carefully about how you may influence others and your social impact as an artist. It maters,” they wrote.

Lawyers weekly deputy editor Jermone Doraisamy tweeted the cartoon, describing it as “grotesquely offensive”.

“To compare the plight of anti-vaxxers to that of a man whose fate remains unknown, 30 years on, is just appalling,” he wrote.

However, others supported Leunig, who was declared a national living treasure in 1999.

“Good on ya Leuing…. One of your best,” one fan said.

“Bless you Leunig. We need more brave artists like you,” another posted.

“So accurate and reassuring that I’m not alone with my perspective!!!!,” wrote another.

“OMG… this one.”

It’s not a first for Leunig, whose cartoons are often published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, has caused controversy over his stance on mandatory vaccination.

In 2015, the Melbourne cartoonist sparked outrage with a cartoon comparing the Victorian government to fascists, following a proposal to ban children who are not vaccinated from childcare centres.

More recently, he caused controversy over a “condescending” image depicting an absent mum.

The infamous Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing came after weeks of protests by students and workers demanding democratic change and the end of corruption. The stance ended abruptly after soldiers and tanks arrived on the 4th of June 1989.

It is unclear how many lost their lives but its thought to be between several hundred to thousands of people.

The communist party of China has since forbidden discussion of the Tiananmen Square protests and has taken extreme measures to block information related to it, including censoring internet posts.

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