“So. That happened.”
This quote, from the film State and Main, is one that Mike Daisey thinks about a lot. In the film, Alec Baldwin’s character crashes his car, flipping it upside down, and emerges with only a few bumps and scratches. He gets up, smiles, and states, “So. That Happened.” Mike Daisey found this quote to be especially relevant in the days following TAL’s Retraction episode in which the lies and deceptions throughout his monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, were exposed to the world. Daisey’s story undoubtedly reached many people and likely caused many of them to take action in some way or another. I, for one, know that I felt uncomfortable listening to Daisey’s “account” of Foxconn and the working conditions as his voice came through the speakers of my MacBook. After hearing Retraction, I began to contemplate a few interesting questions. I wondered how much of an impact Daisey’s original story actually had, and how this may have been different had he told the truth and nothing but the truth regarding his own personal experiences. While I was aware that I would never uncover the answer to this question, I also wondered if Mike Daisey would continue telling the same story and what, if any, changes he might make to his monologue.
“In some ways [the quote] isn’t appropriate at all—I don’t feel unscathed, and I’m very aware of the damage my actions have caused. But now that the media firestorm has passed, and I have made my apologies, both public and private, it’s time to get back to work,” wrote Daisey on his personal blog just eleven days after the airing of Retraction.
In his post, which can be found here, he claims that when The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is performed again in just a matter of days, it will have undergone numerous changes. As it turns out, the new version, which has been labeled as version 2.0 by many, was altered and regarded as much more factually based and accurate by most audiences. The alterations included, amongst other things, cutting six minutes out of the two-hour show. The scene in which Daisey claimed to have talked to 12 and 13 year old workers was no longer. The scene in which Daisey visited the tightly packed cell-like dormitories was no longer. The scene, originally regarded by many as one of the most powerful, in which Daisey speaks to man whose hand had been crushed in an industrial accident and called the iPad a “kind of magic,” was also, no longer. Interestingly enough, he dedicated a portion of his monologue to discussing the scandal in which he claims, “I am a noted fabulist… Perhaps none of this is true. Wouldn’t that be comforting?”
I wanted to end my blog post with one last thought. Daisey’s original monologue was captivating, strong, and emotionally gripping. This is the reason I was so angry to learn that he had lied about many of his experiences. As stated by Daisey in another one of his personal posts a few months after Retraction (which can be found here), “this story was always much larger than I am.” In this post he goes on to explain the reasons he decided to continue performing his monologue even after it had been discredited, albeit with changes. Daisey’s intentions were good. Through all of the lies and deceptions, he wanted Apple to make it a priority to consider how they make their products and devices and to take real measures to consider human rights and how to improve their overseas working conditions. While he could have gone silent, he rose from the wreckage and made changes for the better. That counts for something in my book.