Mr. Daisey: What was he thinking?


Listening to the podcast this week made me pretty uncomfortable. While I do think Mike Daisey should be held accountable for his actions, I will admit it was hard to listen to him defend himself on This American Life. His responses were excruciatingly slow and, honestly, not at all well thought out. Even when he volunteered to come back on air the second time, his explanations were poor. How much can he really distinguish his work as “theater?” He seems disillusioned from the definition of truth.

 One of the falsehoods they discussed in the podcast was of the guards at Foxconn holding guns outside the factory. This didn’t strike me much during the first podcast, but when they mentioned it in the retraction, I felt like I should have noticed it before. I hadn’t really realized it until I went abroad to France last spring, but laws and attitudes regarding guns are very different in the U.S. than they are in the rest of the world (when the shooting in Toulouse happened, some considered it France’s version of 9/11). Cathy herself said that she had never seen a gun in person, and after doing a little research on my own I did indeed find that gun control in China is extremely tough. I’m surprised that no one found Daisey’s tale of guards with guns to be suspicious, especially in a country that is well known for placing heavy control over its citizens (though perhaps if we look at China in that way, maybe it would make sense for the guards to have the guns…).

All of this makes me wonder what Mr. Daisey’s original intentions were in performing this piece. It would appear that he has some sort of vendetta against Apple and Steve Jobs (even though he claimed to own an iPad). Was he telling the truth when he said he wanted to draw back attention to the issue of factory conditions? Or was he simply looking for attention and the money that follows? Whatever his intent, he certainly succeeded in creating a controversy.

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7 thoughts on “Mr. Daisey: What was he thinking?

  1. I also thought that Daisey’s “defense” of his actions was painful to listen to. Every silence was longer than the last, and by the end of the podcast I almost felt badly for him. As someone who seemed so distraught over the idea that exposure would deem his entire story false since the story was “his best work”, his work seems pretty awful. Along with your point about the guns, I could not believe that he falsified the info about speaking to 12 and 13 year old workers, meeting with a union, and meeting a man who suffered from hexane poisoning. In my opinion, if that’s “his best work”, then he should stick to acting out FICTION, and leave the reporting to journalists.

  2. I found it interesting that you said “it would appear that he had some sort of vendetta against Apple and Steve Jobs.” In my opinion, I think Mike Daisey decided to make this about Apple because Apple is such a household name. If Daisey had made his monolog about any other company, would he have received the same amount of attention? Foxconn also makes products for Dell, but the majority of Americans own Apple products, not Dell. I think Mike Daisey wanted the connect with the listen and what better way to connect than by talking about the products they use daily? When I heard Mike Daisey’s original monolog, I immediately thought about my IPhone and IPod. Instead of having a vendetta against the company Apple, I think Daisey wanted to take advantage of the fact that Apple is an extremely popular brand and a household name.

  3. Mike Daisey’s goal was to “get people to care” about the unsafe working conditions in Shenzehn at any cost. He fabricated, elaborated, and essentially compromised all of his integrity in order to paint a picture that would get listeners up in arms over the issue. Many people feel strongly about gun control one way or another, and I see his complete fabrication of the presence of guns as a ploy to get a subconscious rise out of TAL listeners. He is an intelligent and crafty individual, and I wouldn’t put it past him to utilize any trigger word to get negative feelings generated toward corporations contributing to unsafe working conditions.

  4. I agree with all of you – Apple is such a well-known and well-loved company that it made them a great target in his quest to capture people’s attention on this issue. I find it sad that he felt the need to fabricate important details of his story in order to achieve his objective. And Mike, you make a good point about using trigger words. Employing those kinds of things does elicit a more emotional response from the listener. Mike Daisey knows what he’s doing. He just doesn’t know how to do it responsibly.

  5. I do think it is interesting that you note that Mike Daisey claimed to be an “Apple Enthusiast” owning all sorts of Apple products. If he was such a loyal customer, why would he even tell his story, especially because most everything was fabricated? Was the fact that he was obsessed with Apple a fabrication as well?

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