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.