The truth isn’t good enough any more, if you can even find it amid the rubble of American rhetoric.
Deception, lies, and artistic license in artistry, we see the tension every day in politics.
Obama reelect called out for massaging the message on his mother’s illness.
Joe Scarborough applying the false equivalency to Obama’s contraceptive mandate by saying it was similar to the federal government mandating female deacons in the Southern Baptist Church.
A whopper used to reveal a perceived evil, even if as a lawyer you know the equivalency is false, but if the hyperbole can win people to your side you employ it.
Mitt Romney’s narrative on energy prices, even the military, but also Obama on Iran, charging he never said “all option are on the table.”
It’s dishonest, but will it be discovered? Usually, yes.
I’ve actually written, produced and directed my own one-woman show, so when the Mike Daisey story started unraveling it obviously caught my attention.
Of course, my show was on John F. Kennedy and the politics going forward through the modern feminist revolution, so it’s impossible to fake most details. But constructing a narrative and message is the same, which begins with the trust and faith you weave with your audiences.
There should be no sympathy for Mike Daisey.
The story this reveals is about arrogance, insecurity and ethics in artistry that should be taught in every journalism and performing arts school in America, though in politics it’s hopeless.
All this came to our attention because the China correspondent for the public radio program Marketplace, Rob Schmitz, who lives in Shanghai, heard the story and had questions about it, he had suspicions about it. And he went out and he found the translator.
And although Mike told us her name is Anna – he now admits, to keep us from finding her – her name actually is Cathy, just like he says in his monologue. Rob ran the details of Mike’s monologue by Cathy and learned that much of the story is not factual. Cathy gave Rob emails between her and Mike that corroborated her version of some of the events. – Ira Glass from “This American Life”
The scandal surrounding Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” which drew in “This American Life” and everyone else within ear shot is the latest to hit America, as truth continues to take a holiday.
Host Ira Glass has now done a tour de force retraction.
Mike Daisey is a case of an artist seducing himself to believe that the fictional tale he alone is crafting is worth the lies he has to concoct to create it. A person so desperate to make a mark that no motive is too craven in the pursuit of what he’s convinced himself has at its core a larger truth.
The irony that a pathological liar isn’t a good arbiter of truth escapes the fanatical crusader.
That Daisey thinks he’s protecting material so precious that it does not require the simple standard of truth or disclosure goes to the heart of why one-person theater is so seductive in the first place.
The talk show infotainment host genre the pinnacle of a one-person production; the presidency the penultimate.
The clear intent of Daisey to dupe his audiences is woven into the title by what’s missing.
It’s very easy to put a sub-heading on a theatrical work, if your intent is to be clear and unambiguous, which absolutely wasn’t Daisey’s game. But it’s especially important for artistic integrity when you’re covering a public person or company through embellishments and fictional propaganda that stretch well beyond what your narrative and research can prove.
Daisey could easily have added words to clearly state his work was fiction, a parable, “a foreshadowing of calamity to come,” or any number of descriptive or creative phrases to warn the unsuspecting theater goer and subsequent audiences that his one-man show was a fictional rendering of the iPad – Foxconn drama, which could have been seen as a message or moral accompanying Daisey’s fictional tale.
Instead, Mike Daisey made a conscience decision to deceive.
This happens in politics every day.
Pres. Obama and his team could have chosen to tell his mother’s tragic story straight.
Joe Scarborough could have, too, or backed down when Mika Brzezinski first challenged him.
What Daisey said to Glass is particularly telling, from the transcript:
Ira Glass: … And, and at that point you could have come back to us and said ‘oh no no no I didn’t meet these workers, you know, this is just something I inserted in the monologue based on things I had read and things I had heard in Hong Kong’ um, but instead you lied further and you said, you wrote, “The workers were from Wintek and not Foxconn.” Why not just tell us what really happened at that point?
Mike Daisey: I think I was terrified. [breathing]
Ira Glass: Of what?
Mike Daisey: – That—
Mike Daisey: I think I was terrified that if I untied these things, that the work, that I know is really good, and tells a story, that does these really great things for 15 making people care, that it would come apart in a way where, where it would ruin everything.
…that it would come apart in a way where, where it would ruin everything…
Ruin everything for Mike Daisey, that is.
Mike Daisey used hyperbole and propaganda to spin a story that made him a hero and center of attention that rocked the eBiz community.
Someone else, though I’ve forgotten who, wrote that if Mike Daisey hadn’t let slip the real name of his interpreter he might never have been caught.
Daisey chose to tread the worlds of fact and fiction, purposefully weaving a story to seduce viewers and listeners into believing him, because he’d convinced himself his cause was righteous, so no means was to disingenuous or reprehensible to employ.
Along the way, with performances at the Public Theater piling up, as were the rave reviews and the extensions to his run, celebrity snared him and he started believing the rules don’t apply to the righteously intended.
How many times have we seen that theme playing out in politics today?