This post is inspired by a stint of research into what Apple executives’ reaction was to the “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. Even though on a corporate communications level, Apple has responded to the conditions portrayed by Mike Daisey, Apple’s executives shied away from making public statements about Mike Daisey’s allegations…until today… Continue reading Epic Showdown: Tim Cook vs Mike Daisey (with a guest star as well)
I actually got to meet Jason DeRulo after the concert last week– we talked ethics for a hot sec.
Do you think your goal as an artist is to be the most profitable tour or to express yourself and bring the most joy to your fans? Continue reading Jason DeRulo Talks Dirty to Me
I noticed striking similarities between the events that were portrayed in the Bucknell Forum version of “The Agony and Exctasy of Steve Jobs” and the plot of George Orwell’s “1984”. In the beginning of the show, Apple’s famous 1984 commercial is shown with the catchphrase “…you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984”.” Did Apple uphold that promise? The people marching in the background of the ad in aligned, controlled unison seemed strangely similar to the FOXCONN employees’ strict working conditions. As the play within the play continued on I began imagining a story within a story; that is, the reality of technology firms today within the confines of the story that far too often conceals the truth. The comparisons and generalizations I am going to make may not be entirely true, but it is not my goal to declare any truths, but rather to arouse questions (much like the ending of the Bucknell Forums’ play) or “Think Different”. Continue reading Don’t Bite the Apple: A fictional piece
When reading a news article or listening to a news podcast, how do you decide what to believe? Do you take everything at face value? Do you fact-check? The answer differs for each individual. It also differs based on who is reporting the news. But what happens when something written for artistic purposes is reported as news? The answer: the “Retraction” on This American Life of Mike Daisey’s story on Foxconn.
I empathize with Ira Glass’ in his anger toward Mike Daisey. The Mike Daisey mishap is an embarrassment to This American Life. Ira Glass and producer Brian Reed both vouched for the validity of a story that turned out to be false. T.A.L. was arguably justified in retracting the radio show for its journalistic errors. The issue, however, is that Mike Daisey is not necessarily a journalist. Mike Daisey is an actor, or a type of activist. He stated, “My mistake, the mistake that I truly regret is that I had it on your show as journalism and it’s not journalism. It’s theater. I use the tools of theater and memoir to achieve its dramatic arc and of that arc and of that work I am very proud because I think it made you care, Ira, and I think it made you want to delve.” Though he does so retroactively, this quote has great importance. It is less important to me as to whether Mike Daisey thinks his work is journalism or art. What is important to me is the goal of the ‘act’ in Daiseys mind. Daisey goes on to talk about how his fabrications were woven into his narrative of his trip to China because people had lost interest in the Foxconn scandal. This is taking his apology to be truth, which I am hesitant to do. “[…]And he says that made a strong impression on him, seeing the coverage vanish like that, seeing people suddenly not interested in the workers there anymore[…]And he wanted to make a monologue that would make people care. That was his goal.”
After listening to Mike Daisey’s monologue last week, I was completely sold on the validity of his story. Hearing Mike so precisely, so vividly, and so confidently describe his trip to the Chinese factories left not even an inkling of doubt in my mind about the accuracy of the events that took place. However, throughout the 57 minutes and 35 seconds of “Retraction” and the multitude of attempts by Daisey to save-face while on the air, my confidence and trust in the accuracy of Mike Daisey’s account was shattered.
Would working conditions really be different oversees if we, as Americans, demanded different working conditions? Come to think of it, would we really even take the time to demand different working conditions? Would we really boycott the products that we are so obsessed with until Apple gave their suppliers a greater profit margin? While I am confident that there would be some Americans who would do so, I am uncertain that the majority of Apple consumer would take such actions. Doing so would likely be “too inconvenient” or “too much work.” Well, yeah, so is working 24 straight hours in an awful factory just to produce that device that is glued to your hand 24 hours a day. So maybe we should reconsider which of these situations is a bigger burden.
I know, easier said then done, right? I, for one, believe there would be a SIGNIFICANT amount of change in working conditions in Chinese factories if Apple were to provide their suppliers with a greater profit margin. To be honest, it’s not like Apple is financially struggling to exist or anything. It is outright selfish and unethical for Apple Inc. to exploit the lives of others at the expense of their own greed and desire for greater profitability. If Apple were to give their suppliers even a slightly larger profit margin, how much do you think the company’s total revenue would suffer on the year end financial statements? I believe it is safe to assume that providing said suppliers with a greater profit margin, on behalf of better working conditions for hundreds of thousands of people, would not put them in to debt. Perhaps, such actions would actually attract more consumers, who, perhaps may have boycotting Apple products due to their unethical practices and conditions.
Switching gears to the other main concern of This American Life’s: Retraction, I find it to be quite egotistical of Mike Daisey to deceive thousands of people at the expense of his own career. I believe it to be both astonishing and outright stupid that he would be so senseless to lie about details that can easily be researched by any listener. For example, the population of Shenzhen- just type “Shenzhen population” in to Google, and there it is. Or, stating that the guards outside of the factories had guns, when, anyone who may have traveled to China, or reported on the events at these factories, could tell you that only the Chinese military and Chinese police carry guns. With this information in mind, I have to question Daisey’s moral character based on what he mentiond during the podcast about admitting to the fact that he continued to lie to This American Life, even when the radio show contacted him regarding the validity of his information. Daisey not only put his own reputation on the line, but the reputation of the radio show, by letting them report false information.
Daisey mentioned that he “was kinda sick about it. Because [he knew] that so much of [his] story [was] the best work [that he] had ever made.” Hearing him say this really, really made me upset. I sincerely believe he did not “feel sick” for having lied to so many people, and that he did not sincerely feel bad for making a mockery out of a dire situation for his own individual professional gain and benefit. He just felt sick that he had been caught. Finally, I find it quite interesting that Mike Daisey chose to use the word “made” in describing the quality of his work. While he probably used this word in reference to his monologue, I believe his word choice further builds upon the fact that he “made” this story up by combining his own experience with the experience of others. While I understand that Daisey wanted to make people care about the situation, he very easily did not have to go to the extent that he did to convenience thousands of people that these were his own personal experiences. Just like he admitted to Cathy, he was well aware of the fact that he was lying to lots of people.
As NYT journalist Charles Duhigg mentions on This American Life, a reporter’s job is to report the facts they find to readers and let them make an opinionated decision of their own. Mike Daisey admits his monologue did not live up to journalistic standards NPR originally had him agree to, but Mike Daisey is not a journalist, he is an artist and performer. Continue reading Mike Daisey, textbook liar or textbook artist?