Mike Daisey lied to audiences. Is that ok with you?
By Olivia Munk12th Grade, Bronx Science High School Take a look at your cell phone, music player, or computer. Is it inscribed with the tell-tale, half-eaten apple? If so, Mike Daisey has a bone to pick with you. Daisey is the creator of “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, a one-man show describing the horrors he encountered during his visit to the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen, China, where the Apple factories are located. Daisey shared horrifying tales: children younger than 14 working their fingers to the bone on 10 hour shifts, workers falling ill due to chemicals from the factories, a swath of nets surrounding the buildings to prevent the inevitable suicides. Daisey’s exposé drew attention from across the country, most notably from the popular radio show “This American Life” on National Public Radi, which broadcast a portion of Daisey’s one-man show. It promptly became one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunes. Yet, Apple denied his accusations and it tuned out that Daisey’s account didn’t all add up, such as his claim that his translator was unreachable, even though she was found with a simple Google search. NPR found more inconsistencies and famously retracted the segment. Daisey later admitted to taking certain events out of context, claiming his one-man show was primarily piece of theater containing true events altered to tell a story. Yes, Daisey travelled to Shenzhen and used a translator—and lied about her name. Sadly, toxic chemicals from factories hurt workers—1,000 miles away from Shenzhen. And, yes, Apple does cheaply outsource its products to Foxconn. However, so do many companies, which explains the ubiquity of the tag line “MADE IN CHINA”. Daisey’s claim has become fodder for debate. Personally, I think it was quite wrong of him to fabricate his experience in Shenzhen. If he had been producing a parody about a company named “Pear” and its CEO “Reve Hobs”, then by all means, he may take some creative license. However, Daisey used real names, real companies, and, as far as his audience believed, real primary sources. He may have brought attention to the poor conditions in which Chinese workers toil, but I personally believe the result was essentially slander. What is your opinion—are claims of artistic liberties enough to allow playwrights or monologists stretch the truth in the name of theater?