Above is an animation by Edward Monckton, also known as Purple Ronnie, also known as Giles Andreae, who went to my school and then studied English at the same college as me (albeit several years before me), after which our paths diverged – he became a cartoonist and greetings card illustrator, and I didn’t. Monckton also now teaches happiness, I read somewhere. He’s also best mates with David Cameron, and he shares an office with Richard Curtis. Cool.
A few years ago, he was hit by a bad attack of depression, which he writes about candidly here. After that, he started working on this Pig of Happiness project, about a pig who makes the whole world happy. Except that Giles says depression is ‘a chemical imbalance’ – so is the pig happy because he’s on Prozac?
The pig decides: ‘I shall stand for everything that is light and beautiful and true and wonderful!’ ‘And now all the pigs are happy! And all the sheep are happy!’ Yes! everybody’s happy nowadays!!! (pass the pills). The happiness movement is little bit bipolar, it sometimes seems to me. No shades of grey – either you’re a grumbler and moaner (bad) or you’re the perfect embodiment of happiness (good). But isn’t it OK to be a little disgruntled sometimes? A little maladjusted? A little restless?
And it’s evangelist too – the pig gets born again, as a perfectly happy pig, who then spreads the happiness message to the entire farm. They’re saved by him. He’s the pig messiah of happiness! On Prozac! You sense, like many ‘born again’ experiences, the pig feels he must spread the love and increase the global happiness, he must convert the whole farm, he must feel his mission is on target, otherwise his demons will come back, the emptiness, the despair…
If he’s so happy, why does he have to convert everyone else? Why does he feel this ‘distaste’ for other pigs’ complaints? What mad lust for power drive him to convert the entire farm to his ideology of happiness, like Napoleon in Animal Farm, until the whole farm is wearing the same tight grin? He’s a…a pig Stalin! I think the other pigs aren’t grinning out of happiness. They’re in terror of the happy pig. They know it’s either smile with King Piggy…or they’ve had their bacon.