Was there a better way?


“Yes, Cathy, I will lie to lots of people” – Mike Daisey

These are probably the most accurate words that Daisey says in his entire presentation. My initial reaction to the probing of Mike Daisey in this second pod cast was to almost feel bad for him. Yes he messed up. He lied. There was no one disputing that fact and yet the interviewer seemed to want to get Mike Daisey to explain why he lied. Everyone has lied and everyone who has ever been caught up in a lie can attest to the fact that while it’s hard to admit to lying, it’s harder to explain why you did it. Most of the times people lie they have convinced themselves that they are telling the truth or that it’s not that bad of a lie. I think Mike Daisey is someone who deep down doesn’t believe he’s lying that much since most of the things he stretched the truth about were happening at the plant just to a lesser degree (like that there were children as young as 14 found working in Foxconn).

The reason why I said “almost feel bad” is because Daisey couldn’t come to terms with the fact that he was lying. It’s like a kindergartener who is caught by his mother with his hand in a cookie jar and says that he wasn’t taking one. Daisey only admitted to lying about the Hexane poisoning and the rest he tried to make excuses for. Once again I think his excuses stem from the fact that he believes he didn’t do anything wrong but he is clearly at fault and should hold himself accountable.

I don’t like Daisey’s justification that he’s a performer and therefore it’s okay to lie like he does. The interviewer brings up the point that Daisey presents his stories as facts and even claims to have been a witness. That seems more like a journalist account of a happening as opposed to a fictional story based on real life events. People are developing opinions on Foxconn and Apple based on his presentation with a mix of fact and fiction. How are people supposed to distinguish between what is real and what is fabricated?

What should not be lost from Daisey’s presentation is that Foxconn is not a good working environment. People are still taking their lives because working there is so depressing. Apple is still outsourcing their manufacturing to this company despite knowing this. These larger social issues are ones that need to acknowledged and dealt with. I can’t help but wonder, could Daisey have gotten similar reactions to his presentation if he had made it clear from the start that he did not witness all the events but, all of occurred at some time or similar location to the Foxconn Factory?

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6 responses to “Was there a better way?

  1. In my post, I took the stance that Daisey did nothing wrong in the sense that he tried to ignite social change. However, after reading your post, I’m starting to open up to your interpretation. In the journalistic sense, Daisey was certainly in the wrong. Lying and fabrication have no place in journalism. He should not have gone that direction. I’d like to take a stab at a couple important questions that you pose: was there a better way, and would Daisey have gotten a similar response from this “better way”? I’m inclined to say that Daisey could have accomplished his goal without so much deception. It is no secret that Apple’s manufacturing companies are atrocious. Daisey even mentions in his own blog that the media has given the situation considerable coverage.

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  2. I so badly want to say that there was indeed “a better way” for Daisey to go about publicizing his message, but I don’t know for sure that there was. There is certainly a less controversial way, in which Daisey could have acted as a journalist and released a report of his findings at Foxconn. But would this raw data have made the same impact as his passionate monologue? Do the facts themselves resonate with us as strongly as human emotion does?

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  3. Your reaction seems to resonate pretty well with mine. I think that “the context of theater” explains why he added fabricated anecdotes into his monologue, but I agree with you that it was not right for him to lie. I think he very well could have had a disclaimer that said something like “this piece is based on my personal experience as well as the documented experiences of others”. With that disclaimer, I feel like Daisey could have gotten the credit for his visit to Foxconn and he could have evoked the same level of care from his audience, but he would have avoided all the finger-pointing in the end.

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    • Your reaction is straight on, in my opinion. More importantly, I appreciate your ending paragraph. We should not forget that while Daisy did fabricate parts of his story, his general message was sound: these people do not have safe/good/preferable (fill in any word you’d like) working conditions. Daisy exaggerated parts of his story that he read on other accounts. He didn’t straight up lie just because it made him happy. He shouldn’t have lied at all, but it was to serve a purpose.

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  4. I really agree with your post and this it was very well worded. The fact that he is telling this stories and expressing them as if they were the truth is the problem. I understand him wanted to be dramatic and make the most impactful performance, but by expressing this as pure truth is not correct. First of all, it is making people have an impression of Apple and Foxconn that is not necessarily right, and second, it is misleading people. For me, if I knew his monologue was based on true fact and then heard his monologue I believe that I will would have been impacted by his story. However, because he lied and I felt deceived, I have discounted a lot of his story and do not feel the same way. So the fact that he lied and did not present it, hurt is goal of making people care.

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  5. I think his reasoning was that the larger truth of where our technology comes from excuses the fabrications.

    Also, I think when he began the monologue, in a theater, he was more comfortable with his bending of genres. When TAL approached him, the unity of the work would have come unglued if he started to say some things were directly witnessed, and some weren’t.

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