The Whole Truth


I found the video “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” to provide a very interesting perspective on Mike Daisey’s performance.  I liked how there were periodic breaks in the performance to give commentary and additional notes to judge the validity of Daisey’s statements and provide additional sources.  The use of additional sources and perspectives put less weight on the Daisey’s story and offers the audience a more balanced and “true” point of view than Daisey’s original performance.  The historical portion of the performance also gave validity to the overall performance, as it presented facts easily accessible from other sources, rather than purely personal anecdotes where we have to take the speaker at their word.  When questionable anecdotes were used, there was a break in the performance to clarify or question the truth of the speaker’s remarks.

The performance stressed that we should always know where our products come from and should investigate the origin ourselves.  It is important to note the difference between theater and journalism and fact and fiction.  The play raises interesting questions as to what is true versus what is untrue and how can we know the difference.  I think that the play took a good approach in providing many different ways of presenting the information.  It included personal anecdotes from both Daisey’s and Bucknell students’ trips to China, interviews with Steve Jobs, historical facts on Apple and the state of China, clips from the retraction of Daisey’s article and others.  These gave the presentation more credibility, even though it was very clearly presented as theater rather than journalism, giving the audience very informational and moving entertainment.

Will an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?


As I sat and watched Bucknell’s version of “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” I appreciated the way Bucknell approached the story. I mentioned in my earlier blog that I felt that Daisey was wrong to misrepresent his story as fact and that readers should be more aware of the source of their information. I thought the play did a good job of differentiating between what was fact and what was artistic expression or opinion. I also really enjoyed how the history of Apply was intertwined with the Daisey story. I felt like this gave the listener a better understanding of why Apple does business the way it does and also showed the cracks in Daisey’s story.

I thought it was very interesting to see how the play represented Apple. “Being in love with Apple is like being in love with heartbreak.” The play did a good job of exposing Apple for the enigma it really is in the business world. The play makes mention of how Apple tells its consumers what they should want and when they should want it. The example with the iPod mini and nano really made me think about how Apple treats its consumers. Apple has created a cult of followers, considered almost a religion to many but as the play points out, “thats a problem for any religion, when you start to think.” This play really made me think about Apple and its practices, not only in China but how it treats its consumers all over the world.

By chelsealodato Posted in Blog 4

Aiding a Cause or Causing Agony?


The end of the play was my favorite part. The professor’s real life experience in China was enlightening. I liked her description of the jobs as being mundane and boring but not in horrible conditions. When she says that, “value judgment isn’t as simple as it seems at first,” I truly thought about my reaction to our original introduction to Daisey. I could not believe the conditions people worked in and that we accepted it by buying these products. But the realization that people know what the working conditions are like before accepting jobs and willingly working in these factories makes a bit different. It’s still not completely fair or right, but the jobs in these factories give workers their well-being. It’s hard to know where to draw the line between being forced to work and working willingly when conditions are bad. In a way, these people are forced to work in order to sustain their lives and the lives of their families and factory jobs are the only ones they can get. On the other hand, they apply for and accept these jobs that happen to bring us these great products. I have a hard time deciding whether or not buying the product is buying into a belief that it is okay and we are just giving people jobs or if it is in fact our consumerism that is adding to a horrible world practice. The professor in the play helped me to lean toward the former with her statement of economic purpose, but I find myself still hesitant to except either position.

Last semester I worked with a student from China in a group project in which we had to do extensive research on a public company. We chose Gap, Inc. He was very passionate about exposing the child labor scandal Gap had in Indonesia. They apparently were using sweat shops similarly to how Daisey explained Apple to be. So we were interested in asking if he was concerned about similar cases in China. Being from Hong Kong, he did not have any direct connection to the“sweat shop” like factories and seemed more interested in discussing that poor working conditions are not just in China, but all over the world. It was almost as if he was upset China was labeled this way.

un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs


            I really enjoyed Bucknell’s adaption of Mike Daisey’s play they called “”un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” I thought that the combination of Daisey’s original story with the interludes throughout the play was particularly interesting in telling the story of Apple’s history. Although I enjoyed the play, the one thing that bothered me about Bucknell’s play was that I was not entirely sure what they were trying to accomplish with the play. In Daisey’s version it is clear that Daisey was trying to bring to light the working conditions in Foxconn’s factories in China. In Bucknell’s version, there were too many things going on throughout the hour and a half. Was Bucknell’s adaption to tell a more truthful version of Daisey’s story, to point out Daisey’s faults, or to tell the story of Steve Jobs? To me, the fact their play went in so many different directions, it took away from the overall product.

         A friend of mine, Bo Yao, who is a senior at Bucknell, grew up in China and came to the United States for an education. I’ve known him for almost three years but I’ve never actually talked to him about life in China before. So it was interesting to hear what he had to say. One thing that he told me, which was a surprised about, was that the workers in China are starting to get more power. They are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The problem with this though is that many manufacturers are leaving China and moving to Southeast Asia because labor costs are cheaper there. After hearing all the stories about the working conditions in China, it is hard to imagine that there are countries where they are even worse.

What causes are worth our energy (and how does truth fit into this question)?


After watching Bucknell’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I contemplate the purpose of theatre. Does theatre exist to bring us closer to ultimate truths? For one reason or another, watching this play, rather than listening to Mike Daisy perform it, changed its meaning. It seems as if, when someone else performs the play (other than Mike Daisy), I question the validity of it because it is not first hand, and therefore I am less upset when the validity of the stories is questioned. Though Mike Daisy, when he speaks of experiences he had, seems to silence questions listeners would have otherwise.

Viewing this theatrical performance caused me to questions the role of truth in plays and performances. All performances serve to elicit meaning from the audience. Often the theatrical element can cause the audience to feel emotional about a topic, and therefore theatre often functions as a “call to action.” How genuine is this “truth” that we experience through our emotional response to theatre?

Another question this play brought up was the attention we give to certain causes. There are so many problems in the world, so how do we decide which to give our attention to? Media publicity leads us to certain problems. Which issues go unnoticed? Sometimes it seems as if there are so many problems in the world; I question where my energy should be placed.

Deceit and the Fallout


How much lying does it take for one to believe their deceit as actual truth? Mike Daisey’s monologue was so believable that it seems as if he truly believes that his words are reality. Bucknell’s own rendition of his monologue casts a shadow over his words, using video breaks in order to display his exaggerations and flat out lies. I specifically enjoyed the Steve Jobs video that involved Foxconn where he states bluntly, “Foxconn is not a sweatshop.” He tells the interviewers that there are restaurants, movie theaters, and swimming pools at Foxconn, far different from Daisey’s dark description of the factory. His addressing of the suicide rate at a working place of 400,000 being less than that it is in America also puts a damper on Daisey’s convoluted words. Daisey’s usage of dramatic pauses during his monologue actually works against him in this rendition, for Bucknell used them to display more truthful facts that he avoided.

This begs the question though, should we completely discredit everything he has said about working conditions in China? Are they exaggerated and should America stop worrying about what they cannot understand? This is where people must look outside of one man’s deceit and see the bigger picture that he was attempting to convey.

Andrew Somers and I interviewed our friend Bo Yao, a Chinese Chemical Engineering Student here at Bucknell. After asking him about the work life in China he had many of the similar stances that Daisey took in his monologue. He says that the working conditions are much worse in China than in the US, and that it is very labor intensive with little job guarantees. The factory shift towards Southeast Asia he states is because of the lower wage requirements in that sector of China. Bo even says that government jobs, although hard to get, are not even that high paying. Health insurance and free traveling are benefits, but it is still not as glamorous as one would believe. Overall, there are obviously labor issues in China that need to be addressed, and Mike Daisey tries to show his listeners that with the powerful usage of verbal imagery. However, his lying has turned people off and the real issues that he wanted people to hear about may not garner the same attention that it should.

How China Feels


At first glance/first listen, Bucknell’s adaptation of “The Agony and ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” seemed extremely similar to Mike Daisy’s performance, but I soon found out that the similarities ran short. In the part “The second coming” I believe that the writers hit Apple spot on. When he says (I am paraphrasing), we are apple, we have exquisite taste, we know better than you about what you want.
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Where does the responsibility fall?


After listening/watching to Bucknell’s own adaptation of Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” there are a couple directions in which I would like to take this blog post. Firstly, I would like to comment on the style of the production and some of the key differences between this version and that of Mike Daisey. Overall, I felt that the way in which the show was put on was very effective in that the producers were able to weave in supplementary lessons throughout the show that were very informative. For example, one of the first lessons came from a Chinese professor who spoke about some of the cultural misunderstandings that Americans tend to have about China and its culture. Specifically, he makes an important point about how, although the working conditions are not great, there are thousands of Chinese that jump at the chance to work at a place like FoxConn. So, unlike some may believe, it is not a situation where these people are being forced into these conditions, but rather they are seeking out the chance to get jobs which offer real opportunity. In addition, these periodic pauses throughout the show not only allow us to get more information, but also offer a chance for us to question what Daisey is saying. For example, the show chooses to include an interview of Steve Jobs specifically about this issue so that we can hear the perspective of the accused and therefore have a better chance to form an objective opinion.

Of all of the information pauses/ mini lessons in the production, the one that really stands out in my mind is the one that featured the Civil Engineering Professor who had recently returned from a trip to China. In particular, there were two interesting points that I took away from her discussion with the first having to do with the proliferation of manual labor in China. During her visit, Professor Vigeant had the chance to visit a local printing company in which she learned that manual labor was a pivotal part to its operations. Specifically, the company had a binding machine for the paper, but required that each piece of paper be folded first. Rather than using a machine to do so, the company specifically employs workers to manually fold this paper all day. What’s particularly interesting about this is the fact that the company managers justify this choice because it is so much more cost effective that they are willing to sacrifice the increased efficiency that would come by using a machine. Ultimately, Vigeant then goes onto reveal that manual labor is extremely common in China which shocked me as it seems a little ‘primitive’ for a country that everyone raves about as such a booming industrial nation.

Though a very interesting point, the use of manual labor was not the most though-provoking idea that came from this discussion. For me, the most important point that professor Vigeant makes is her distinction between menial labor and abusive labor. In the case of the paper company, it is quite clear that the physical folding of the paper is extremely boring work, however it should not be considered horrible or abusive work. After hearing this, I felt that it was important to return to this point because so many of us now associate outsourced factory work with images of sweat shops. Clearly, there are way too many places in the world in which labor conditions are terrible, and I do not mean to make a defense for this type of behavior, but I think that it is important to remember that there are many companies in the world that do provide good, suitable conditions for their workers. Though not surprising given the massive media attention that is placed upon those companies that fuel abusive behavior, it is really not fair to group them all together.

Near the end of her speech, professor Vigeant makes another very important point about how we all have a responsibility to know where our products come from. In all honesty, this was the first time I had ever heard someone say this and it instantly got me thinking. Are we all, as consumers, responsible for knowing where every piece of clothing we buy comes from? It’s an interesting idea, but is it realistic for us to be held accountable for this information when all that a tag says is “made in China”? I definitely think that it is important for all of us to recognize that there is a chance that the shirts that we are currently wearing could have been made in a dangerous factory by someone younger than all of us were when we even started thinking about working. However, there is still so much uncertainty out there about which products are made under these conditions and which are not. Ultimately, I think that it is a great idea in theory, but I still believe that it first falls on the companies to raise their awareness of these practices.

FaceTime to China


Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 2.48.18 PMThere must be some oxymoron when you find yourself sitting waiting on your Apple Iphone to FaceTime your Chinese teacher, in China, all the while getting questions prepared to discuss the controversial issues in which this exact device you are currently holding is made in.  Is that wrong?   Is it wrong that I didn’t even think twice about the fact that I’d be using Apple’s products to hold the interview? Continue reading

Bucknell’s Got Talent


The performance was a very good way depicting Mike Daisey’s performance. It also did a interesting job of inflating the story, a way of poking fun of the lies that Daisey created. The performance became confusing at several points but it all was part of the necessary delivery of the play. What I took most from this performance was Professor Zhu’s’ speech. His description of what those jobs meant to those people in China helped me to realize we are looking at everything with a very narrow western lenses. To us, those people are being taken advantage of, which may be true in some parts, but to them, it is a an opportunity to make better for themselves. Isn’t it the same thing as the working poor in America? The people who work the jobs most of us turn our noses up at in order to create a better living for them and their families can equally compared to the work done by those in China. You must really ask how much different is Apple than to the Hilton or these lavish restaurants who use cheap labor to run their business.

Having read this week David Shipler’s: The Working Poor, it opened my eyes to the fact that this is not an issue specifically with just Apple. The overall problem comes from a lack of opportunities for people to advance into better socio-economic conditions. These people in China are essentially forced to accept the conditions and treatment they receive because there is simply no other way for them to make some type of income. While we can blame corporations for exploiting these workers, underneath it all it is still serving some good. I am in no way justifying their actions, but i do understand that without these businesses, many of these families would have much less than they have.

By riley246 Posted in Blog 4

What is the real issue among these lies?


Jasmine-and-Liping-crashThe performance did a good job of depicting Mike Daisey’s performance, pointing out the lies, and also taking it a step further. Although it was confusing at some points in the production when the false statements that Daisey made were repeated, it became clear when the truth was revealed in the next scene.  I liked how different points of views and stories were incorporated however it would have been more powerful if the group made more of a powerful argument. The purpose of the production was a little ambiguous.  It seems like the purpose was to raise awareness of Mike Daisey’s lies as well as incorporate a background story of Apple. The most intriguing part of the production was the ending of the monologue when Bob recommends that Apple should give part of their dividends to their labor workers. I have never considered this, and I think it is a great idea! Apple’s cash levels are so high and the cheap labor in its supply chain would greatly appreciate and benefit from a dividend. Continue reading

Praise Globalization for Problems and Opportunities


Foxconn Shenzhen Plant

Foxconn Shenzhen Plant

On one hand globalization is good because when transnational corporations outsource production, it create opportunities for jobs in developing countries. Yet on the other hand, outsourcing to factories in these developing nations is harmful because many times these laborers are exploited and getting paid next to nothing. In fact the very reason these transnational corporations, such as Nike and Apple, are outsourcing production is to reduce the cost of production. Professor Zhu who has an intrusion in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, does a fantastic job of explaining how China is a nation full of contradictions. Although these working conditions aren’t great, there are still thousands of people waiting at the gates of Foxconn for jobs. Factory jobs offer Chinese people with an opportunity for employment and to escape poverty, at the cost of facing exploitation.

 

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The Play We Did- un/real and un/true…


We will have the next blog post due on our regular time- this FRIDAY, Sept 27.  In other words, we have this week off.
Chelsea and Kamal are on the next blog council, so we will meet NEXT week.
As the last Blog Council decided (Chelsea and Maureen and me), we want us all to watch Bucknell’s own production of Mike Daisey’s play, but which we heavily modified, and called “un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”
TechNo375
HERE is a link to watch this.  You will need to log in to moodle to see it.
SO, please watch this.  Respond to the play itself, to the changes we made, to what it says about truth, art, and journalism, globalization, China, or any other direction you want to go.
Feel free to use this as a platform for further explorations of all the interesting and meaningful topics that the play provokes.
ALSO, we hope you can use your resources to reach out to someone FROM China.  There are many students here at Bucknell from China.  As best you can, reach out to a person and simply have a human conversation about China and about how China is seen from the outside or inside.  If you can’t do this, you can contact Chelsea Alpert, from our class, who may be able to help through her contacts into China.
Please reply with any questions.
This is all new ground for me and this class, so let’s have fun exploring this.