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.

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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.

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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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.

Daisey Retraction


Mike Daisey’s original monologue was so deep and detailed that it forced me to develop a strong opinion about the labor conditions in Chinese factories, specifically Foxconn. It was the jaw-dropping facts such as the workers jumping to their deaths, the guards threateningly holding guns around the property, and the worker he met that was poisoned by hexane that made me feel so angry about how Apple ignores the people who work for them in order to turn a profit. After listening to the Retraction and Mike Daisey’s admission to lying about those facts, I feel cheated as a listener. He can call himself a man of the theater, but when you fabricate major details in order to better prove a point, you are just a poor journalist and a liar.

 

Daisey wanted people to hear something they have never heard before about Apple and their dirty secrets. He desired the audience to leave his passionate monologue with disgust in respect to Apple and how they police what goes on in their factories overseas. At no point in his speaking did he once tell people that he was an actor and information that he is giving may not totally be true. If he did that, he would lose all credibility with the audience and his point would not have the same effect on how people felt. By taking such drastic measures, like telling the radio station that there was no way to find his translator, to hide that his “journalism” was solely “acting” he turns from creative researcher into an unethical reporter.

 

As a member of the audience, I expect the speaker to respect that I gave my time to listen to him or her and be truthful. I should in retrospect fact check in order to have an informed opinion, because my initial response was premature. By taking Daisey at his word, I formed an opinion on lies that sounded so powerful, but in reality had no validity. He used death, disease, and human rights issues to create a picture that would force people to have strong opinions. People want to believe what they are told, but sadly in reality that cannot always be the case.

 

 

Mike Daisey Retraction


The retraction of Mike Daisey’s story about the terrible conditions at the Foxconn plant shows the importance of fact-checking in the world of journalism.  Daisey was able to manipulate his listeners into thinking that Apple was an evil company that forced its suppliers into terrible working conditions – or at least did nothing to stop them from occurring.  Daisey exaggerated and even fabricated parts of his story to influence the opinions of his listeners to fit his impression of Foxconn and Apple.  The graphic and descriptive nature of his story was so realistic that we all believed it to be true without looking at other sources to verify the facts behind his experiences.

While I am disappointed that Daisey’s story is fabricated, I cannot say that I am completely surprised.  Some of his anecdotes appeared to be stretched to the point where they were hard to believe he accomplished in a few days time, such as talking to “hundreds of workers” outside of the Foxconn gates; however, we believed them because they were on the news and were told in a manner so descriptive that there was an impression that these anecdotes couldn’t possibly be fabricated.  This retraction shows that we cannot always believe what we are told, even if it appears to come from a credible news source.  Facts can be twisted, exaggerated, or in this case, fabricated, to present a particular view of the person presenting the information.

This retraction shows that it is important to look at multiple sources when forming an opinion.  A simple Google search “Mike Daisey Foxconn” fills the first page with articles saying that the story was fabricated.  I personally feel foolish that I did not look into this or other sources regarding the reporting of Daisey’s story, but it shows that myself and others are quick to believe what is told to us without consulting other sources to verify the merits of a particular story.  This argument can be expanded to the news media that try to use facts in a certain context to spin news their way.  Whatever the story, it is important to have the facts straight before forming an opinion.

Daisey Apple Post


            Mike Daisey’s monologue about the dreary lives of workers in the factories of Zhenjiang, China seems like a plot to a modern horror film. The constant surveillance, whether it be in the twelve by twelve dorm rooms with thirteen beds, or the hallways and warehouses where thousands upon thousands of people work, is a real life version of the Big Brother defined in novels like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The ominous nature of the massive factories described, specifically Foxconn, is very hard for a listener to ignore. The nets put up to deter suicide attempts makes me feel as if that these workers are in borderline prison like circumstances with little freedom and an even lesser amount of hope for progression in the workspace. The number one fact Daisey said that stood out to me is that 430,000 workers are employed and perform services in the Foxconn factory. That is like a small city cramming into one warehouse every day in order to handle assemble small products that are not even sold to their own locality.

            Daisey’s original assertion that Apple is a religion to people is more true than false when I think about it. People are always out to find and buy the newest product and spend most of their lives using these devices. IPhones, IPads, and Macbooks have almost completely taken over everyday activities and without them some people are completely lost due to their developed dependency. We lose sight of the atrocities that happen in order for these tiny devices to be created. People lose physical functionality, their free will, and in some circumstances, their lives in these factories of that a majority of the time, only benefit the Western World. Like Daisey inferred, do we really need more things to be handmade when these workers give their lives to create our personal devices by hand? Is a man dying from working a 34-hour shift worth a singular phone or computer?