It’s All an Act


I was initially shocked to hear everything that had been fabricated in Mike Daisey’s enthralling tale about the hardships at the Foxconn factory. Some of the stories that had triggered the strongest reactions had been completely fabricated! I had been under the spell of Daisey’s story, completely believing everything he had said. However, this was while I was under the illusion that it was a piece of journalism. This is not true, as Daisey is a performer, an actor, who wanted to convey the concerning atmosphere at Foxconn. The difference between art and journalism became so clear to me as I listened to Ira Glass and Mike Daisey discuss the reaction to his monologue about Apple.

Journalism has a certain responsibility to convey the truth. When people read a newspaper, they expect to be looking at facts. On the flip side, art is a warped version of reality. It is a way of expressing a version of the truth that is colored with fiction in order to engage the audience. Mike Daisey was not apologetic about his story- and I can understand why. It was his version of art and his goal was to encourage the audience to care. He was apologetic for appearing on TAL, which I also understand. He regretted telling his story under the pretense of journalism, as it is absolutely not journalism. It is a form of art, and I believe that if people had seen it as such, they would have been less hesitant to take everything to heart. This piece, no matter how controversial, did encourage many people to investigate Apple, Foxconn, and the truth behind the technology we own. If this monologue results in some sort of change, then perhaps there is an upside to Daisey’s ‘lie.’

Unfortunately, the distinction between art and journalism was not clear in this case, nor is it in many aspects of today’s society. Nowadays, falsification and embellishment seem to be everywhere in the business world. There needs to be some way in which journalism and art are kept completely separate, so that lies like that about Foxconn are not spread to epic proportions. Performers like Daisey should be upfront about their intentions, otherwise people can become swept away in their tales and blindly believe every detail. However, we should also be more inquisitive and question the validity of the things we hear. If more people had questioned Daisey’s story, as Rob Schmidt did, perhaps this would not have been blown out of proportion.

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9 responses to “It’s All an Act

  1. You make a point that falsification and embellishment are seemingly ubiquitous in the business world, and I completely agree with you. It is a troubling fact, but a fact nonetheless. Daisey is just one example of individuals who acting under false pretenses. I also agree that had people done more fact checking, this would not have been blown out of proportion. However, I think Daisey’s strong reputation and credentials blinded the producers of This American Life, which may have contributed to their lack of due diligence.

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  2. I felt exactly the same when I found out that Daiseys story was not journalism. I find it horrible that Daisey did not tell people that this was art rather than journalism. Performers like Daisey should be upfront about their intentions and I feel bad for people like Ira Glass who back them up and share their story when it is not truthful. Do you think that Daisey should be held accountable for his lies and reprimanded in any way? I do think that something should be done so that issues like this do not occur in the future. People should be held to their words and if they are not speaking the full truth they should say that from the beginning.

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  3. I recently saw an article on Facebook that seemed a little too ridiculous to be true so I followed the link and investigated. While most satirical articles on Facebook are marked with satire, this particular website seemed to slip through the cracks. It’s called Huzlers.com. Yes the name suggests that it is a satirical website, but they advertise themselves as “a combination of real shocking news and satirical entertainment to keep its visitors in a state of disbelief.” Real shocking news and satire seems like a dangerous combination. Similarly I think that the line that Mike Daisey was tiptoeing on is one that should be done with the utmost care. It is so easy for things to go viral with social media running rampant. With a little foresight, I feel as if this issue could have easily been avoided.

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    • I am always amused that Glenn Beck, who used to be a regular at Fox News, calls his how “the fusion of enlightenment and entertainment.” I mean, he says he is blending them. And then he, and others like him, act like pure journalists or berate those who question them.

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  4. Do you think you would have found this piece equally as effective having known it was art and therefore the stories were fabricated? Would we still have been motivated to look into Apple and Foxconn if we knew these accounts were not true?

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  5. I completely agree with everything you said there. You summed up my thoughts exactly. If Daisy had made a distinction between his piece being considered ‘art’ or ‘journalism’ it would have saved his reputation, as well as the network’.

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  6. The paragraph stating the difference between art and journalism was very well put. I agree with your analogy of reading the newspaper and expecting the facts. When I was listening to Daisey’s original podcasts I was not under the impression he was lying because I was expecting facts. What Daisey did is a form of art like you said and I wish that he would have specified this rather than try and get away with lying. People took some of the things Daisey said to heart and will never be able to forgive him for lying, which is reasonable but also unfortunate because of what is going on at Foxconn. It will be interesting to see if there is any sort of change that does come from Daisey’s monologue, but that is something we will have to wait and see for ourselves.

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  7. The blurring or blending of journalism and art is more widespread. Add “marketing” to that mix and it is even more a world where all symbols, all utterances, all media content has a loose relationship to “ground truth” and Daisey seems to me more the norm then the exception.

    At the same time, the burden of fact checking all information is too much for normal humans, so we must turn to supposedly trusted brands.

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