Cartoonist Michael Leunig has been fired from his prized role at The Age for a controversial picture of vaccination.
Newspaper cartoonist Michael Leunig has been fired from his prized position at Age about an image that compares resistance to mandatory vaccination with the fight for democracy in Tiananmen Square.
In an image posted to his Instagram account, Leunig, whose career has spanned five decades, drew a lone protester standing in front of a loaded syringe, mimicking the iconic “tank man” image of the protest in China. An inset from the 1989 photo also appears in Leunig’s drawing.
The image was released in late September and was never printed on Age, and speculation about Leunig’s work at the newspaper began after a cryptic 39-word statement on his page of letters last Monday. The statement said the Melbourne newspaper was “testing new cartoonists” on the page.
Now, Leunig has confirmed The australian Columnist Nick Tabakoff was removed from the prized position on Monday’s editorial page, not long after his Tiananmen Square cartoon surfaced, fueling outrage from Daniel Andrews fans.
He said The australian that The ages Publisher Gay Alcorn called him shortly after she banned the cartoon to “spread the word” that he was no longer wanted on the editorial page.
He said he was told he was “out of touch with readers.”
“Gay feels that this type of cartoon is not in line with public sentiment, and The ages readers, who seem to be largely in favor of the Andrews Covid narrative, “he said. “But my job is to challenge the status quo, and that has always been the cartoonist’s job.”
He defended his cartoon, saying that the image of Tiananmen Square is often used in cartoons around the world as a “Charlie Chaplin-style metaphor for the overwhelming force encountered by the innocent and powerless individual,” which felt it was fair to express.
Alcorn said The australian Leunig is “pretty brilliant” and has a “right to be upset” about being fired from the editorial page position on Monday.
She declined to comment further when contacted by news.com.au, but confirmed that the cartoonist was still “hired by us to provide a Saturday cartoon,” a lifestyle article that appears in the Saturday Spectrum section of the newspaper. .
The “tank man” cartoon divided fans on its Instagram page, with some applauding it as “brilliant” and “spot on” while others described it as “pretty tacky” and a “disgusting comparison.”
A fan questioned the message the work would send.
“I generally love your work and admire the way you question social norms and assumptions. However, this piece feels pretty frowned upon during this critical moment. Think carefully about how you can influence others and your social impact as an artist. It matters, ”they wrote.
However, others supported Leunig, who was declared a national living treasure in 1999.
“Good for you, Leunig … one of your best,” said a fan.
Blessed are you, Leunig. We need braver artists like you ”, published another.
It is not the first time that Leunig has generated controversy over his position on mandatory vaccination.
In 2015, the Melbourne cartoonist sparked outrage with a cartoon comparing the Victorian government to fascists, following a proposal to ban unvaccinated children from daycare.
More recently, he caused controversy over a “condescending” image showing an absent mother.
The infamous Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing came after weeks of protests by students and workers demanding democratic change and an end to corruption. The posture came to an abrupt end after soldiers and tanks arrived on June 4, 1989.
It is not clear exactly how many people died, but it is believed that it was between several hundred or thousands of people.
– with Charis Chang