[It’s the year 2020 and Mike Daisey has retired from his career as a monologist, author, actor and raconteur. He has rededicated himself to spreading awareness about the poor overseas working conditions employed by many U.S. corporations after he was caught fabricating the facts of his monologue, The Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Recently, he has been hunting down CEOs of corporations that mistreat their overseas workers and giving them a piece of his mind.] Continue reading Heavyweight Title Fight: Mike Daisey vs. Phil Knight
I have edited a few sentences to reflect changes.
Almost no one calls me in my office. 90% of the calls are my wife or a textbooks ales representative (poor souls- they are ever-optimistic.).
So, when the phone rang two weeks ago, I answered it very informally. “Unh, hello?”
“Is this Jordi?” I didn’t have time to realize I should have recognized the voice. “This is Mike Daisey.”
In our third time around with the Mike Daisey and Apple story, I am left with three main thoughts, being both novel and recurring.
The first, and most prominent to me, was the question that I have not been fully able to answer across all three blogs: If this wasn’t all about Apple, would we really have cared? Did Mike Daisey’s story of Foxconn, beit true or false, only catch our attention because it was about a Man and a Company so revered by us that we couldn’t dare imagine Apple as being anything but the most ethical, the most innovative, and most popular company. But what if Mike Daisey had chosen to highlight Foxconn’s conditions under the context of Samsung, or Nokia? Would TAL have given it airtime? Would he have been asked to come to speak at tech/no? The answer I tend to believe is no, Continue reading So Why Did We Care?
Does art do a better job of getting to the truth than journalism? This question really stuck out to me, especially as we dig deeper into this controversy between Mike Daisey and Apple. As we all know, this question is brought up from the fact that Daisey’s emotional monologue turned out to be not quite as truthful as it is made out to be. However, even after knowing the facts, I am still touched by Daisey’s story. Why would it still have a positive affect on me if I didn’t believe it? I think this is an important point to bring up when deciding if art does in fact bring out the truth. Continue reading “But were the lies necessary?”
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
We all watch the news and believe everything they tell us. The media would never lie, right? Or are we just expected to take every single thing we hear with a grain of salt? In my opinion, many people are too busy to come up with their own interpretations and would rather just listen to what they hear on the news. But many times, stories are reported through different perspectives and given different twists based off the views of their network. Continue reading “Truth” is in the eyes of the beholder
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.
A while back I was talking to a friend of mine who is obsessed with journalism. Like most journalists, she lives, speaks, and breathes controversy and through quick responses, emotional arguments, and sometimes (knowingly or unknowingly) dishonest statements she brings herself to the forefront of the conversation. In general, I like to share my opinion on any topics in the news, but with this person I felt like I could not accurately portray my opinion without it being twisted into something it was not. During one late night of a heated-debate I confronted her about her argument style describing it as “sensationalist”. She admitted to knowing that some of the things she said were not 100% true, but that she believed that it is okay to use arguments with more impact to get a point across. After all, there is no future for a journalist that doesn’t rouse support, and gather followers.This brought me to my understanding of the only truth behind media and journalism: The truth doesn’t sell.
For issues like the Apple, FOXCONN case, we want the answers be black and white. However, the truth is almost always grey, and the further dug into the story (with an open mind), the more complicated it becomes. The reality is that it would be impossible to convey the complexity of any issue in a podcast/report that would allow the audience to develop an informed decision. It then becomes the responsibility of the journalist 1. Create a short “snapshot” of the issue as a whole. 2. Create a story that will sell (which for most audiences is a sensationalist story they can repeat back to others) and 3. Represent the issue in a way that is (if fabricated) ethically justified.
I want to draw particular attention to the podcast titled 460: Retraction (found here http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction), where Rob Schmitz, an award winning journalist, refutes the emotionally-driving fabricated story “The Agony and Ectasy of Steve Jobs” as told by author/actor Mike Daisey. Rob Schmitz refutes some key points from Mike Daisey’s monologue; for example, FOXCONN does not have armed gaurds outside the factory, the percentage of underage workers is likely under 1% of the total workforce, and in general conditions are not quite as bad as he had made them seem.
I don’t want to go into analyzing which argument is correct, but rather point out the potential flaws in the reporting of both Rob Schmitz and Mike Daisey. Firstly, Mike Daisey has obviously fabricated many details in his monologue which, in my opinon, allowed the story to hit mainstream attention. I think that people should question whether his visit to FOXCONN really caused him to feel strongly about the treatment of workers, or whether he saw the opportunity to hit it big with a emotionally-appealing story. As for Rob Schmitz, I wonder what motivates him to cut down a movement to bring attention to work conditions. There are still many unsolved problems that globalization has caused, that need the attention and emotional rallying of a majority of people to create change. The bottom
line question: When issues are never black and white, is it ever justified to sensationalize them into greater media attention?
What is truth? Lies? Who gets to decide?
Now things get complicated. You heard This American Life’s podcast focusing on Mike Daisey’s monologue-play and the issues it raises about Apple, China, worker rights, us as consumers, and globalization. Continue reading Blog 2- Art, Truth, and Lies