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Seeing Things Differently. The Lot by Michael Leunig Essay

Context: The prompt, we believe what those who are stronger than us tell us to believe, draws ideas from every day events and experiences. It poses the idea that reality is contagious and is never true. What we believe in varies, it varies on what people say to us and how we present our beliefs to others. Therefore, the influence of other, stronger civilian’s beliefs manipulates the beliefs of those lower than them. Purpose: I strive to use Leunig’s persona to challenge the prompt. Michael Leunig is a very strong man, who is not that easily persuaded by others beliefs.

I want the reader to understand what it takes to stand for something. I want the reader to also realise what it feels like to stand up for something which you truly believe in and not get pressured into believing things that go against your heart. I want the reader to know that it is okay, to believe what you deem personally appropriate to believe. Audience: This piece would be aimed at the professional to the trade adults of Australia who show an interest in compressed national affairs.

A 60 minute, quick, wrap-up of national issues, with a generally one-sided opinion focusing on the negative, or the incredibly admirable. There will be an assumed relationship between the reader and Leunig as seen in the articles that were published in his book The Lot in Words. 60 Minutes supplements the enjoyment of a Sunday post-dinner watch with the family. The audience would be familiar with and often understanding to the straight-forward nature of 60-minute presenters.

In this case, Liz Hayes and this will enlarge the reader’s opinion to automatically be biased to Liz. Form: By using Leunig’s naturally discursive tone, I attempt to bring Leunig’s ideas, values, beliefs and life experiences into context. I want the reader to realise how Leunig’s strong beliefs and wit, make him an exception to the prompt, we believe what those who are stronger than us tell us to believe. By creating a discussion between two already known figures in our society, it makes the task of conveying tone a lot simpler. This makes an ideal connection between the reader and the prompt.

Language: The title of the piece captures the audience by conveying the message of rebelling or fighting for or against something. Opening with an introduction into the piece is vital. If there was no background on the conversation, then the reader would have no understanding as to who Liz or Michael were. I wrote about a confrontation between Michael and his comics. This refers to how Liz interrogates Michael and makes him feel uncomfortable. By using many resources and materials beforehand, and researching into Leunig’s life, I was able to convey his tone through the script.

The use of Leunig’s soft, intelligent tone opens opportunity to draw extensively on the truly expressive and bold nature of his work. Leunig expresses his admiration for an artist’s narcissism in cartoons, and how one can convey ones opinions and beliefs through a scribble of a pencil. Liz asking Michael about being accused as “insensitive”, “un-Christian”,” pro-Islamist” and “un-Australian” brings somewhat a form of humility to Michael. This humility screams out on the page when Liz quotes Michael as being ‘troublesome and disturbing.’

I also use repetition, by repeating the word madness, and drawing in the reader to re-read and proof-read over and over, somewhat inducing an epileptic fit until they understand the true madness of society’s assumptions. Liz refers to Michael as being the maker of madness in today’s society, however Michael rebuts that he is merely the expresser of confidence and beliefs, “a composer” of interpretation and thought, pushing society to realise that hey, maybe we can believe what we want to believe?

Finally, I conclude the piece in a friendly tone. However, the abrupt conclusion of the discussion still poses that the two have a mock-relationship, a professional one, however one with no depth. I chose to conclude it this way because the last thing Michael talks to Liz about is strong, and informative. It leaves Michael on a high, therefor conveying the message that we don’t have to believe what those who are stronger than us tell us to believe.

Seeing things differently

We believe what those who are stronger than us tell us to believe. Many people in society fight to have their own personal beliefs however, it is difficult not to be influenced on the matter. Many could argue that, Michael Leunig is a man exemplary of this. When Michael Leunig decides to go on the popular ‘current affair’ show, 60 minutes, Leunig gets confronted with all of his beliefs and controversial comics. Michael fights not to allow the television show get the best of him and reveal any contradicting information that could be used to abase him.

As Michael talks about his novel “The Lot” in words, it becomes evidently clear of the conflict between the beliefs of Leunig and the television show host, Liz Hayes. Liz Hayes: Welcome Michael. Why, of all the professions in the world, did you choose the path of a cartoonist? Michael Leunig: Thank you for having me Liz, well, the works of Enid Blyton, Arthur Mee, Phantom comics, The Book of Common Prayer, J.D. Salinger, Spike Milligan, Bruce Petty, Martin Sharp, Private Eye magazine and The Beatles were my early creative influences.

My political consciousness intensified radically upon reading my notice of military conscription sent to me from the Australian Government in 1965. I fled in disgrace from formal education and pursued a successful career as a factory laborer and meat worker where I nurtured my art and philosophy before beginning work as a political cartoonist for a daily newspaper in Melbourne in 1969. I admire the narcissism in cartoons, and how one can express ones opinions and beliefs free-willingly.

Liz: This all sounds very interesting. I and the majority of the general public would agree that your latest novel, The Lot in Words, has gotten you in a lot of strife. One could argue that you have too much amour-propre. And why, might I add, have you been accused of being insensitive, un-Christian, pro-Islamist and un-Australian? Quoting yourself, you refer yourself to a ‘‘troublesome, disturbing cartoonist’’. Many people disagree with your beliefs and how you publish your cartoons.

You have said before that your work presents your views on issues and concerns about life and ‘‘society’s mood or madness’’, however, you have been the maker of the madness! What do you say about that? Michael: Madness, madness, madness. I am a man who doesn’t want to be funnelled away with the rest of society and have to behave in the same grey, dull way as they do. My work is often contemplative and reflective, it doesn’t appeal to any audience, it appeals to me. My mission is to create the most opinionative cartoons which can make the audience react successfully.

I believe in Yorro Yorro. It means ‘everything standing up alive.’ This word was used by David Mowaljarlai, have you heard of him? Oh, you have! He used it when his country was going through anxious and depressive times. I use it a lot. My book, The Lot in Words, provides the uncomfortable, the unthinkable, the unlikeable and reveals my passion for the often forgotten things in life. The Lot is a book for my self. It is a personal possession of mine; it encourages people to work and work hard to decipher the idiom in the writing.

I like to challenge people to see what I believe to be true and life-guiding to me. My writing is often tempered and controversial, and is often personal and introspective. Liz, I believe everyone is mad. I know I am mad, however my madness is only one entity of my beliefs and values. The Lot is all about my life, and the controversial dilemmas that present themselves in it. Liz, I don’t think you or anyone can say that I am a maker of madness, I am a composer of thought and interpretation, and I push society to see issues in a different perspective. Perhaps through the eyes of a once innocent bystander who has been engulfed by our societies issues?

Liz: Yes, yes, I understand Michael, however the way the public interperates the novel is the most important thing. You don’t want society to cringe at the thought of slaughter houses and that you find a sense of comfort around slaughtered animals. No, it is distasteful and cruel. Have you ever thought of writing a novel which would in fact intrigue the audience and make them want to read more? Perhaps a novel which interests the public and makes them feel comfortable? Maybe a less striking and opinionated tone would help you achieve this? What do you think about that? Letting the strong, aggressive tone go and stay with what makes others comfortable.

Michael: Liz, I do not care of the way the public interperates my work. It is my work, so I write it in a context which appeals to myself, not to millions of strangers. When I wrote The Lot in Words, it was my world, my life, in words. I went to a lot of effort to pull all of the pieces together from my life and form something of which I would be proud of. I disregard anyone’s harsh judgement, because it is my life. If a civilian decides my novel is to crude to publish, let it be so.

I would like to see someone pull their finger out and write a novel about their life memories and receive no displeasing feedback. In the end, I do not feel a victim to the false beliefs of others. Liz: Unfortunately we have run out of time and…

Michael: Liz, on my behalf I would like to thank you for bringing up these issues with me today. It has been a pleasure to discuss them with you and hopefully bring new light to this very dim, cold, topic. Liz: The pleasure is all mine Michael. Thank you for coming onto 60 minutes and I hope you enjoyed your time on our show. I look forward to seeing you again and discussing more about your upcoming novel The Forgotten. Michael: Thankyou Liz.

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