Michael Leunig cartoon “My Former Self” Essay
Michael Leunig cartoon “My Former Self”
Leunig deeply values the truth and he questions why people feel that the truth is never good enough. Leunig acknowledges the difference between who we want to be and who we are, he suggests that people strive to unrealistic expectations concerning career, image, relationships etc. and by lying to themselves and everyone around they lose the importance of the truth. Personally I agree that people try so hard to appear how it is thought they should and to be successful, they lose their inner self and who they are. I think that we can get caught up in the race to the top and we end up living a lie about who we really are and what we really value. In Leunigs cartoon My Former Self he suggests people are trying to rid themselves of flaws, recreating themselves to better suit society, sacrificing happiness, disguising themselves to better fit what they want, and some people are even embarrassed of who they really are. Therefore it is presumable that Leunig believes lies are controlling and overpowering peoples values in life.
It is shown through Leunigs cartoon, that imperfections are not a respected part of our lives, and people feel that they should do whatever they can to get rid of any flaws. Leunig sees everyone to be striving for perfection, not letting anything get in the way. In the cartoon My Former Self the character goes to the extent of burying the flaws he believes he has. The character recites the imperfections he has insulting his former self as he goes. This is supporting Leunigs view has that people do not accept their own weaknesses or faults as part of their ideal selves. Instead they feel the need to cover or remove them. According to Leunig the desire to be perfect is continually creating lies.
In Leunigs cartoon My Former Self it is evident that people are not happy with themselves the way they are and they are willing to go as far as recreating themselves to better suit society. Leunig suggests that some people want to be flawless so badly, they recreate themselves over and over again, lying about who they are, to better suit the values of perfection inflicted upon us. Leunig cartoon states that people can be as silly as creating a funeral for themselves so they can reinvent their personality traits, Leunig shows this through his cartoon My Former Self where a man wearing black is explaining to another man that he is attending the funeral of his former self, he goes on to describe the flaws of the person he used to be. This segment of the cartoon clearly demonstrates that Leunig does not see the need in sacrificing yourself to be a better person, and by doing so you are lying to yourself and everyone around you about who you really are.
When we put so much effort into becoming what we think we want, we sacrifice happiness. It is a constant battle to hide ourselves and it just doesnt seem worth it. Leunig believes that we should not have to pretend to be something were not in order to be happy, it should come naturally. Within the cartoon, this sacrifice for happiness is evident in the illustrations. The whole time the character is talking about his former self, his expression is dim. But as soon as his former self clambers out of the hole, his expression changes and he looks happy. He also refers to his former self as a grinning fool, but why would he grin if he werent happy that way? We are at our happiest when we are being ourselves. Through this cartoon, Leunig is stating that no one should have to pretend to be something theyre not just to be happy, it should come naturally.
People lie through their appearances by disguising themselves in a number of ways, hiding what they dont want known. They can disguise how they act, talk, dress etc. to appear different from what they really are. Leunig draws attention to the fact that we sometimes change the outer image of ourselves eg. the way we dress, to change the perception people have of us. Within My Former Self A man is dressed in black because he is attending a funeral, the black attire is supposed to be projecting his emotions of being sombre to anyone looking at him, but when he is questioned on why he is wearing black, he replies that the outer person is sometimes opposite to the inner person, contradicting the message his outer person is sending.
Deep down he is happy to be burying his inner self because he was embarrassed by it. He is lying about his emotions, he is not in mourning or upset. He is wearing black because that is what society says you should do at a funeral, it is not how he feels inside. This disconnection between the inner and outer person is another example of leunigs views on the lies we tell and that even when they are not spoken, they can still be intentional and misleading.
Leunig has realised that due to the desire to be perfect, people are embarrassed of themselves because of what they think to be flaws. Leunig questions this embarrassment, because the flaws are only human and why should we be embarrassed about who we are? He has portrayed his views through the cartoon My Former Self. There are two sections of the cartoon strip where the character refers to his embarrassment; the first is where he is continuing to insult himself and he refers to himself as the badly designed, embarrassing mess and the second is when his former self is returning and he says to the man with him forgive me, this is so embarrassing. He is ashamed of things that should not matter, like being badly designed. This example is suggesting that we lie to cover things up that are not even worth worrying about. Both these instances support the generalisation that to avoid the embarrassment of imperfection, we lie.
Leunigs strong value of truth is demonstrated in his cartoon My Former Self. He has drawn attention to some of the ways people lie everyday, they are constantly trying to rid themselves of flaws, people are recreating themselves to better suit society, are sacrificing happiness, they are disguising themselves to better fit what they want, and some people are even embarrassed of who they really are. In conclusion Leunigs cartoon supports the notion that a lie is a constant battle that isnt worth fighting because the truth is always stronger. His final message within this cartoon is that no matter how many lies you tell, and no matter how far you push your inner person away, the truth will always come out.
Goatperson, Michael Leunig